Buddy Johnson headlines, through the years

Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson: A retrospective, in actual headlines:

2003

Ex-legislator Buddy Johnson to lead elections office. "I intend to make the standards for myself and this office as high as they've ever been and try to move them even higher," the Jeb Bush-appointee says.

2004

Primary votes go uncounted. For 17 days after the election, 245 votes are not counted because, Johnson says, an elections worker left a voting machine on test mode. Johnson says no local election outcome was affected. "I'm taking this very, very seriously," he says.

Elections site posts errant tally. Johnson's official elections Web site says a total of 118,699 people voted while 125,891 voted specifically for state attorney, which is, well, not possible. Informed by a reporter, Johnson blames human error.

2006

Mum's the word on $24K gag deal. Abruptly asked to resign, Johnson's public information guy is offered an eyebrow-raising $24,142 to promise to neither sue nor talk about what he saw while he worked there. Johnson similarly does not comment.

Memo details tensions in election office. An assistant county attorney's memo about a tumultuous time in the office paints a picture of Johnson as mistrustful, secretive and temperamental. Johnson disagrees with the recollection of events.

A failed petition, a $64,000 question. A citizens' group working to get an initiative on the 2006 ballot says it could not get Johnson's attention through calls or letters for an extension, and ultimately the petition drive fails. The Times' Jeff Testerman reports that during that period, Johnson sold blocks of restaurant stock to make $64,032. Johnson says work wasn't affected.

2007

Election moved without word. Two precincts are relocated without letters sent to voters. Johnson says voters got there anyway.

Turmoil at elections office. A liaison to the African-American community whose job is eliminated describes an uncomfortable work environment: "It was like the Wizard of Oz over there."

2008

Sample ballot boo-boo surfaces. Rudy becomes "Rudi" Giuliani. "This is a mistake, and I am taking full credit for it," Johnson says.

MOO-LAH! Johnson leases a 20-acre piece of property he owns to a farmer for $20 a year and hopes cows grazing there will get him a greenbelt exemption that could whittle his tax bill by more than $12,000. "It's not like I put one orange tree in the front yard," Johnson says.

Elections chief lets his tax bills pile up. Johnson had not paid more than $11,000 on properties in Sarasota and Hillsborough.

Report shows illegal contributions. Johnson's campaign gets two $500 checks from companies that already contributed, an elections no-no. Informed by a reporter, Johnson says the money will be mailed back.

• • •

November 2008: Voters to choose election boss. Results aren't in, but one citizen exiting the polls opines, "Enough with the headlines already."

Okay, I made that last one up.

Buddy Johnson headlines, through the years 04/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:17pm]

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