An Ogeechee Judicial Circuit judge will weigh what to do with an appeal filed on the Effingham County Board of Elections’ dismissal of a challenge to county Commissioner Vera Jones’ candidacy.
The elections board voted 3-1 three weeks ago to dismiss a challenge to Jones’ candidacy. Andrew Brantley, who filed the challenge, also filed the appeal Thursday morning in Effingham County Superior Court.
The appeal claims Jones’ motion to dismiss was filed “untimely, meritless and did not address the issues raised by the Challenger before the board.”
Brantley’s original complaint alleged that Jones retained more than $700,000 in county money that was not hers. Jones was issued a check for $739,844.86, after she provided an invoice to the county for work her and her husband’s company did to extend water and sewer lines to one of their developments.
Jones has contended that the county promised to get that work done but then could not fulfill its end, leaving her development in the lurch. It led to her company completing the work in order for the homes to have water and sewer service to go with their certificates of occupancy.
Brantley contended that commissioners never approved a check to Jones and she did not comply with repeated requests to return the money. Having the money and not returning constitutes a violation in Jones’ candidate application where she claimed she was not holding public funds in violation of state laws.
“The facts were given through affidavit by seven former Effingham County commissioners, who were seated when the erroneous overpayment was made,” Brantley said in his appeal.
The appeal also states Jones knew the county was to repay her as impact fees were collected, which would have meant a check for $147,500, but she took a check she knew to be in error and converted it to cashier’s funds.
“Whatever Candidate Jones and/or DM Jones Construction Company used the check for was not material to the issues before the Board,” the appeal states. “The issues regarding the impact on the Candidates’ company, the bankruptcy statement, et al have nothing to do with the issue and were only included for prejudicial purposes.”
Brantley’s appeal also contends that Jones was required by law to prove she is qualified, in light of the initial challenge, to run for office.
“Candidate Vera Jones made no attempt to carry her burden of proving her qualifications, made no testimony and relied solely on frivolous motions,” the appeal charged, “designed to thwart the function of the Superintendent of Elections.”
Brantley’s attorneys, Warren Ratchford and Rick Rafter, have asked the appeal be assigned to Chief Judge William Woodrum.