Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher resigned Monday, rather than appeal her suspension before a Republican Senate where, she claims, the odds would be stacked against her.
Having met with her attorney, Leonard Feuer, she said they concluded a hearing would be a waste of time, conducted by a handpicked Senate committee "with attorneys for DeSantis acting as prosecutors."
"This is my only option for due process," Bucher said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. "The law does not provide for guidelines or rules. Prior to my service as your supervisor, I was a very vocal member of the House minority party in Tallahassee. As such, I do not believe I can receive a fair hearing before a very partisan Senate. ...
"The laws and our Constitution need to be changed. Florida elected officials should not be afraid to express their views and stand strong for their constituents without fear of being removed from office through fabricated allegations which would not stand up in a court of law. There should be minimum standards for removal of elected officials by a governor so that political agendas are not the only reason."
Bucher's decision represents a reverse of her position on Jan. 18, when Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended her for incompetence, replacing her with prominent commercial real estate attorney Wendy Link.
“Today I stand before you willing to fight for democracy and justice,” a defiant Bucher said Jan. 21 before a cheering crowd in West Palm Beach. “Are you with me? Are you with me?” she asked, as people hollered “Yes!”
An elected official can only be removed for cause, according to Florida law. That generally includes "malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, incompetence or permanent inability to perform official duties; arrest for a felony or for a misdemeanor related to the duties of office; indictment for the commission of a federal felony or misdemeanor or state felony or misdemeanor."
The governor's suspension order was based on a three-page brief from former Secretary of State Mike Ertel. In it Ertel cited a failure of Bucher to establish "trust in our elections" as the supervisor's primary blemish during the 2018 midterm elections.
More specifically, the order claimed Bucher stationed a polling place inside a gated community, missing election reporting deadlines; didn't submit improperly completed ballots to the county canvassing board, failed to allow news outlets to review recounts, altered ballot tabulating machines and never submitted a complete report citing her office's problems during the election.
Bucher blamed aging equipment for her inability to get midterm votes counted on time and replaced her with Republican West Palm Beach attorney Wendy Link.
“Today, we turn our attention to the need to restore faith in our elections processes here in Florida,” DeSantis said in making the Jan. 18 announcement. “During the 2018 General Election, Florida had 65 out of 67 counties that ran good elections. Supervisor Bucher demonstrated she was unable to comply with the laws of our state and her duties as the supervisor of elections and failed to accurately report information related to the number of ballots that had been cast. For these reasons, I am suspending Susan Bucher as Palm Beach County supervisor of elections, effective immediately. It is time to turn the page in Palm Beach County to ensure accountability and transparency from our elections officials.”
In her statement, Bucher basically announced her career in elected office is over.
"The political atmosphere in this state and in our country has changed so much that I no longer wish to be associated with these elected officials," she said. "At this time, I believe my time is better spent as a concerned and involved citizen of our community."
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith