A call to former St. Johns County Airport Authority member and county commission candidate Randy Brunson was met with a feeling of satisfaction and vindication this morning after the Florida Election Commission published the results of their November 12th & 13th meeting — finding no probable cause in the complaints alleged by disbarred attorney Edward A. Slavin, Jr.
In the November 4th General Election, Brunson faced Gary McMahon and Ken Bryan in a three-way race for the St. Johns County Commission seat being vacated by retiring Commissioner Jim Bryant.
Before the election, Slavin, who fancies himself a “activist” but lacks any substantial, identifiable constituency, launched an e-mail campaign to local media outlets alleging that Brunson had violated state election laws in renting an office to operate his campaign from local hotelier Kanti Patel. Except for the Ponte Vedra Recorder (who ran a front page story on Slavins complaints) Slavin’s e-mail campaign against Brunson gained little, if any, traction.
Slavin, who supported another candidate in the District 5 race, filed a lengthy complaint with the Florida Election Commission who’s staff followed up with Brunson’s office; collecting documents and notarized statements that would show his full compliance with Florida’s election laws.
The day before the matter was scheduled to be heard, Slavin filed another lengthy motion which he published on his Internet blog, demanding that the Commission “disqualify MARK HERRON as counsel for Respondent RANDY BRUNSON”; alleging conflict of interest and several other dubious points.
At their regular meeting last month, the Election Commission would determine, by a unanimous 7-0 decision, that Slavin’s motion to disqualify Attorney Mark Herron be dismissed as well as finding, by a unanimous 7-0 decision, that Slavin’s complaint lacked “probable cause”.
Brunson told us today, “It is beyond me how one person’s complaint can cost someone thousands of dollars in legal fees”, but Brunson admitted that this complaint by Slavin had.
“Because the Ponte Vedra Recorder published my name and picture on the front page of their newspaper — repeating Slavin’s false allegations, I feel that it cost me the election”, Brunson went on to say.
Since the Commission found “no probable cause” and Brunson hired an attorney to represent him, we asked if Brunson would pursue recovery of his attorney’s fees. According to the Election Commission’s website, “Section 106.265(2), Florida Statutes, provides that a person may claim costs and attorney’s fees by filing a petition with the Commission clerk within 30 days following dismissal of the complaint”.
Brunson said that he was looking into how successful the collection of such an order would be against a man with Slavin’s reputation. “I’m still considering it, but I don’t want to waste my time or any more money”, Brunson said. “I have thirty days to make up my mind, and I’ll let you know”.
In the matter that determined that Ed Slavin would be disbarred, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld findings that Slavin “had failed to follow orders of the court” and “had made false statements” about a client’s illness and “with regard to a client’s identity as an investigator”; that his conduct had violated Tennessee disciplinary rules (which, among other things, prohibited conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and intentionally prejudicing or damaging the client during the course of the professional relationship); and that he had engaged in “undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading to a tribunal.”
Brunson told Historic City News that he intends to run for a seat on the County Commission in the next election. He says that he is hoping that some in the media will be more responsible when receiving frivolous complaints from “disbarred lawyers” in that election.