Oliphant Takes the Stand

It was a tough day on the witness stand for Florida’s secretary of state. Glenda Hood was grilled by the attorney for suspended elections Chief Miriam Oliphant during the Senate hearing into Oliphant’s suspension, but Hood denies there was any vicious conspiracy to remove the Broward County supervisor.

Broward County’s controversial but popular former elections chief strode in to the final day of her Senate hearing carrying a stack of documents. It was her day to face the woman who recommended her suspension, Secretary of State Glenda Hood.

Hood admitted her office did not specifically say Oliphant would be suspended if she didn’t complete a list of recommendations after a disastrous 2002 primary. Secretary of State Glenda Hood also admitted she never personally read an inch-thick stack of documents Miriam Oliphant sent to the governor addressing the assessment team’s recommendations. Hood never even saw Oliphant’s response before recommending her suspension.

Oliphant maintains she did the best she could, tackling a tough job after the notorious election of 2000.

“I knew immediately I had to hit the ground running. I knew the voters of Broward County and the rest of the state and this country were disappointed. They had lost trust,” says Oliphant.

Oliphant’s attorney says Hood didn’t even have the legal right to push for Oliphant’s suspension.

Henry Hunter, Oliphant's attorney, says, “Those recommendations are simply recommendations and not mandates. Failure to follow is not grounds to remove a constitutional officer and that’s where we are now, what we are contemplating, because right now the case is over. Oliphant wins.”

After the hearing Hood denied Oliphant’s repeated accusations that she lost her job because of jealous officials out to sabotage her career.

“That is absolutely false. The bottom line is Supervisor Oliphant was not meeting her statutory obligations nor the responsibilities of office,” Hood says.

Hood says Oliphant had more than a year of notice that she could be suspended if she didn’t get her act together and she stands by her recommendation to oust her.

The special master conducting the hearing will recommend to the state Senate whether or not to uphold Miriam Oliphant’s suspension. In the meantime, Oliphant has filed papers to try to win back her seat in November.