Sheriff candidate fined for violating state election law
Charles Garnett response to the FLS: “l would like to thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Election board’s decision and I want to state up front that this was an oversight and there was absolutely no malicious intent or impropriety. I have updated the materials in question and I apologize for any confusion that they may have caused, but I would like to focus on the issues and my plan for providing better leadership to the Sherriff’s office. At the end of the day I am just a public servant trying to make Caroline county a better place to live and I hope that the citizens of Caroline will choose me based on my knowledge and experience in Law Enforcement.”
BY PORTSIA SMITH
The State Board of Elections fined a candidate for Caroline County sheriff $100 this week for violating state election laws.
Charles Garnett, 37, a former Caroline deputy running against incumbent Tony Lippa for sheriff in the November 8 election, mailed out letters and sent out brochures seeking votes and monetary contributions towards his campaign.
“I am really appreciative of the support of my many friends and acquaintances and I hope that I can count on your support financially, as well as at the polls,” Garnett said in his letter to citizens.
But the letters and brochures did not contain political advertisement disclaimers that say “paid for by or authorized by,” which is required by state law.
Chris Piper, manager of Election Services for the State Board of Elections said that the board met Tuesday for a public hearing on the matter after a complaint was sent to county Registrar Danette Moen and Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer.
“The board found that the campaign was in violation of the law and set a $100 penalty against the candidate,” Piper said. That’s $50 each for the letter and the brochure, he said.
He said the violation has no affect on Garnett’s campaign unless he fails to pay the fine within 60 days. If he wins the sheriff’s election and hasn’t paid the fine, Garnett would be unable to hold the seat, Piper said.
Garnett, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Piper said he was present for Tuesday’s hearing and spoke on his own behalf, which is not required.
Piper said the law has been in place for some time and is the first complaint the board has heard during this election cycle.
Garnett is a Caroline native who currently works as a detention officer at Peumansend Creek Regional Jail. He worked at the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office from 2003 to 3008 as a deputy and school resource officer and has volunteered with the Port Royal Volunteer Fire Department, according to his campaign website.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419