Ex-Commissioner Blair campaign violation trial still on hold

By George Niemann

PoHo contributor and R-LAND, UCAN, Amendment 4, FSP activist

Views expressed are my own & not necessarily those of the organizations to which I belong

Remember how the king of pragmatic linguistics, Bill Clinton, asked the question during his deposition, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”? We all knew he had sex with Monica and the world knew it too, but he used linguistic gymnastics as a method of delaying the inevitable. Well it looks like former Hillsborough Commissioner Brian Blair is trying to follow in Clinton’s footsteps.

Back in February of 2009 the Florida Elections Commission found there was “probable cause” that Blair intentionally violated Florida statutes by accepting illegal campaign contributions during his unsuccessful 2008 campaign for county commission. Instead of signing a consent order (admitting guilt), Blair opted to have a full trial before an administrative law judge. Since then his dream-team lawyers from a development lobbying law firm in Tallahassee have continued to file what I would call “nonsense” motions. This is a desperate attempt to avoid appearing before the judge and taking his punishment like the he-man he’s supposed to be.

During the last round of motions, Judge Jeff Clark ordered that both sides needed to report back by November 30, 2009 on the status. If there were no more motions a final trial date would be set.

The newest dream-team motion

If you can believe it, this latest motion is to determine what the true meaning of “willful” really is. After seeing the evidence that the prosecutor will present showing how he willfully disregarded the law, Blair’s lawyer, Richard Coates, has decided to question whether it is within the realm of human existence to determine willfulness (aka, the meaning of what the word ‘is’ is).

Here’s a copy of the motion he filed…

STATE OF FLORIDA

DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

Florida Elections Commission

Doah Case No.: 09-2069

Agency Case No.: FEC 08-224

Brian L Blair

________________________________________/

JOINT STATUS REPORT

COMES NOW, Petitioner, FLORIDA ELECTIONS COMMISSION (FEC or

Commission), by and through undersigned counsel, and Respondent,' BRIAN L. BLAIR, by and through his undersigned counsel, pursuant to the Administrative Law Judge's August 31, 2009,

order and file their Joint Status Report.

1. On or about August 28, 2009, Brian Blair, filed a Petition to Determine Invalidity

of Existing Rule with the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) challenging Rule 2B-

1.002, Florida Administrative Code. See DOAH Case Number 09-4732 RX

2. Rule 2B-1.002, Florida Administrative Code, defines willfulness for the purposes

of FEC cases. The final disposition of Respondent's rule challenge could have a direct impact

on the parties' preparation for, and presentation of their cases.

3. The final hearing on Respondent's Petition to Determine Invalidity of Existing Rule is scheduled for January 12, 2010"

4. It is in the interest of justice and judicial economy to hold this matter in abeyance pending the final disposition of Mr. Blair's rule challenge.

Respectfully submitted this 23rd day of November 2009.

Richard E. Coates

Florida Bar Number 930032

Emmett Mitchell, IV Florida Bar Number 976687

Coates Law Firm, PL

115 East Park Avenue, Suite 1

Tallahassee, FL 32301

(850) 681-1029

Eric M. Lipman

Assistant General Counsel

Florida Elections Commission

107 West Gaines Street, Suite 224 Tallahassee, FL 32399-0150 (850) 922-4539

Florida Bar No. 958247

A court date has been set for January 12, 2010 to decide on the "willfullness" challenge. On that date the judge will determine what “willfulness” really is, and whether it can be used as a factor in deciding Blair’s case. More to follow…hopefully justice will prevail.

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