The case against County Commissioner-elect Brian Poole won't be going away any time soon.
The Cherokee County Board of Elections voted to schedule an administrative hearing to consider allegations against County Commissioner-Elect Brian Poole. The hearing will held at 10 a.m. Wednesday Oct. 31. County Attorney Angela Davis said the board will meet at Cherokee Hall, located on the bottom floor of the Cherokee County Administration Building in Canton.
The board, made up of four members and a chairman, voted unanimously to schedule the hearing during a called meeting held Wednesday afternoon. Board member Donald Sams was not present. The board also directed County Elections Superivsor Janet Munda to draft a letter notifying Poole of the hearing.
Poole is accused by a group of residents as being ineligible to hold public office.
Eight residents – Chris Hampton, Scott Ault, Teisha Ault, Jamey Cagle, Connie Miller, Bryan Roach, Eric Love and Linda Flory – allege Poole has not paid state and local sales taxes in the state of Alabama. Poole allegedly owes $38,599.09 in sales taxes in the neighboring state.
Hampton was defeated by Poole for the District 3 seat in the the July 31 Republican Primary. Along with Roach, Hampton is currently a member of the Cherokee County Recreation and Parks Advisory Board. The residents challenging Poole's eligibility are a mix of citizens living in District 3 and other areas of the county.
The board made the decision after holding a nearly 90 minute executive session to review the matter. Davis said the board intended to move quickly as possible after learning of the allegations. She noted that with the election less than 2 weeks away, it was imperative for the county to move forward.
"Our goal would be to render a decision by the board as quickly as possible," she said.
Davis also said Poole will have the opportunity to address the charges and present any evidence he has to prove that he is qualified to take office.
When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Poole called the allegations against him as being "totally bogus."
“There’s a lot I want to say, but I want to wait and talk to my attorney,” he said, referring to Woodstock attorney Charles Robertson. "There will be a statement coming soon because all this is strictly politically motivated.”
The residents are being represented by Canton attorney Jeff Rusbridge, who last week drafted a letter to send to Munda asking for the board to hold a called meeting to review the allegations.
Rusbridge also sent several documents that appear to be certificates of liens against Poole from the Alabama Department of Revenue, which were filed between 2009 and 2011, and copies of a voluntary bankruptcy filing Poole made in 2010.
“Mr. Poole himself, in sworn statements submitted with his Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in the Middle District of Alabama, Case No. 10-11227, admitted owing $29,855 in unpaid state and local sales and withholding taxes to the State of Alabama,” the letter reads.
The Towne Lake resident is set to take office on Jan. 1. Poole has no Democratic opposition in the Nov. 6 general election. Both Poole and Hampton sought the seat after incumbent County Commissioner Karen Bosch opted not to seek re-election.
Poole said his financial situation stems from a lawsuit he filed against a gasoline provider, accusing the company of overcharging his business, which was then a convenience store with gasoline sales. Poole said the suit is still dragging on. He noted the debt is attached to his company, Poole Management LLC.
He noted the case brought on the "decline" of his family's financial situation and "put us in a bind.”
Davis said if Poole is deemed ineligible to hold public office, he would have the right to appeal to the Cherokee County Superior Court "if he’s not happy with the decision.”
Since it would be too late for the county to remove Poole's name from the ballot, Davis said notices would be placed at polling locations notifying residents that he is no longer a candidate. The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners would then have to call a special election to fill the seat.
See the attached .PDF to read the allegations against Poole.