Attorney General Asks Court to Provide Guidance to the Secretary of State in the House District 150 Race Before the Speaker Seats Hampton
Jefferson City, MO – Attorney General Chris Koster on behalf of Secretary of State Robin Carnahan asked a Cole County judge to advise her on how to conduct her ministerial duties regarding the 150th house district. “This petition was filed at the request of the Secretary of State’s office,” confirmed Nancy Gonder with the Attorney General’s office.
Previous litigation instigated by the Dunklin County Clerk Democrat Carol Hinesly asking the court to order another election in the 150th district stalled in the Southern Court of Appeals and is unlikely to be resolved by Jan 9, the first day of session in which the overwhelming Republican majority in the house plans to seat Kent Hampton.
Speaker of the House Tim Jones commented, “Because this election was certified by both the Dunklin County Clerk and the Missouri Secretary of State I feel that the House of Representatives has all the legal authority necessary to seat Representative Hampton.”
Jones has experience in dealing with election disputes; he was the chairman of a special committee created by former House Speaker Steve Tilley to investigate the controversy surrounding the election of Representative John Rizzo in 2010. “Everyone on that committee learned a great deal about election law and we will be fair, just as we were when it was a democratic representative’s election in question in 2010. We will be fair and comply with the law,” Jones said.
The petition for declaratory judgment was filed Wednesday in Cole County Court asking for the court’s direction in conducting the duties of the Secretary of State which require Carnahan to provide a list of duly elected members of the house within two days of the first meeting of each general assembly.
The petition asks the court to direct the Secretary of State whether to include Hampton in that list. Hampton has been certified the winner and the Board of Canvassers has signed off on his election. However, the Secretary of State is unsure whether to report Hampton’s name to the house due to the pending litigation in Dunklin County.
Russell Oliver, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney and attorney for Kent Hampton, responded to the petition, “It is highly unusual for the Secretary to request that a Court tell her how to perform the ministerial duties of her position. Essentially the Secretary is asking the Court to provide her with an advisory opinion. The Courts generally are in the business of resolving conflicts, not giving legal advice to elected officials. One would expect that if an advisory opinion was necessary, the Attorney General’s office to would be the entity to issue such an opinion as that is a statutory duty of the Attorney General’s Office. It is our position that Kent should be seated on January 9th. The Board of Canvassers have certified the results and since there is nothing setting aside the Board of Canvassers certification, therefore it is our position that there is no legal cause that would justify any refusal by the Secretary to forward the Certificate of Election to Kent Hampton or to leave Kent off the abstract list forwarded to the House of Representatives.”
There is a hearing set for Jan 7 in Cole County Circuit Court to decide the matter. The previous lawsuit is waiting to for a ruling in the Southern District Court of Appeals before being heard before the Supreme Court. However, if Hampton is seated by the House of Representatives the issue would likely not be taken up by the court.
The history of the legal fight surrounding the 150th House district:
November 6, 2012 – Hampton receives 5954 votes to Tom Todd’s 5838 in the 150th House District, and the election was subsequently certified by the Dunklin County Clerk and the Missouri Secretary of State
November 15, 2012 – Dunklin County Clerk Carol Hinesly files suit stating there were sufficient irregularities to require a new election in the 150th House District.
December 3, 2012 – The Circuit Court ordered that only two precincts would vote again, no the entire district.
December 5, 2012 – The Board of Canvassers announced the results of the 150th Missouri House District showing Hampton received the most votes.
December 17, 2012 – The Circuit Court added another precinct bringing the total to 3 precincts that would vote again.
December 19, 2012 – Tom Todd field a petition with the Missouri Supreme Court seeking a new election.
December 20, 2012 – The Supreme Court ordered a suspension of the three-precinct election set for January 8, 2013.
December 20, 2012 – Kent Hampton appealed the December 17th court judgment and the case was sent to the Southern District of Appeals.
January 2, 2013 – Attorney General Chris Koster files a petition for declaratory judgment on behalf of the Secretary of State asking the Cole County Circuit Court to advise the Secretary on her ministerial duties regarding the race.
January 2, 2013 – Speaker of the House Tim Jones tells the SEMO TIMES that because both the Dunklin County Clerk and the Missouri Secretary of State certified the results, he intends to seat Hampton when the General Assembly convenes on January 9, 2013 certified Hampton’s victory.