Poole’s eligibility to be announced one day before election
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
November 01, 2012 12:00 AM | 1968 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cherokee County Board of Elections Thursday postponed its decision whether presumed County Commissioner-elect Brian Poole is eligible to hold office due to his nonpayment of taxes and other financial concerns. Above: Attorney Charles Robertson Robertson defends his client's financial situation as Poole, background, listens.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
The Cherokee County Board of Elections Thursday postponed its decision whether presumed County Commissioner-elect Brian Poole is eligible to hold office due to his nonpayment of taxes and other financial concerns. Above: Attorney Charles Robertson Robertson defends his client's financial situation as Poole, background, listens.
Staff/Todd Hull
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CANTON — The Cherokee County Board of Elections Wednesday postponed its decision whether presumed County Commissioner-elect Brian Poole is eligible to hold office because of his nonpayment of taxes and other financial concerns.

The decision by the elections board to table came after arguments from attorneys and one and a half hours in executive session.

Board Chairman Randy Gravely said the board will consider the information presented and issue a written opinion at its regular meeting Monday at 10 a.m. at the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration Office in Canton.

That is just one day before the election where Poole is unopposed for the seat now held by Commissioner Karen Bosch, who did not seek re-election.

After the decision was deferred, Poole’s attorney Charles Robertson said he understood the board needing more time to consider its decision.

“However, we kind of expected today either a yes or a no,” Robertson said. “It works to Mr. Poole’s disadvantage in the event that they decide next week he is disqualified because if they decide Monday at 10 a.m. that he is disqualified, it’s impossible to get an appeal filed or a Superior Court to overturn that before elections are over.”

Poole, who beat out opponent Chris Hampton for the seat in the Republican primary, has been accused by eight Cherokee residents of not paying state and local sales taxes in the state of Alabama.

Poole does not have any Democratic opposition in the Nov. 6 general election and is set to take office Jan. 1.

The general manager of Woodstock Funeral Home allegedly owes almost $40,000 in sales taxes, according to a two-page letter filed Oct. 20 by Canton attorney Jeffery Rusbridge on behalf of a group of citizens including Hampton.

Rusbridge, who was present at the hearing, also included dozens of documents along with the letter he said is evidence to support his claims, including active certificates of liens for taxes from the Alabama Department of Revenue, totaling $38,599.09 in local and state sales taxes, filed over a two-year span from 2009 to 2011.

According to the letter, Poole also owed an additional $9,578 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid federal withholding taxes and accuses Poole of failing to make regular payments as part of the bankruptcy after a repayment plan was set up for him.

County Attorney Angie Davis led the hearing on Thursday representing the elections board and said Poole’s last payment in the plan was April 30, according to a trustee’s motion to dismiss.

Robertson said the payment plan is still in place and there has not been a judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction, which is required under the Georgia Constitution for an elected official to be ineligible to hold office.

“As long as there is a payment plan and the parties haven’t dismissed it, the parties haven’t walked away from it, it’s not a problem,” Robertson said.

Robertson said Poole’s next Alabama bankruptcy court hearing is Dec. 20, not Nov. 7, as Davis said was listed on the court docket.

Rusbridge also alleged in his letter that Poole’s pending bankruptcy case proves that he is ineligible to hold office under another Georgia Constitution provision that deems a person ineligible to hold office who is a “defaulter for any federal, state, county, municipal or school system taxes required of such officeholder or candidate if such person has been finally adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to owe those taxes.”

In sworn statements submitted with his Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in the Middle District of Alabama, Case No. 10-11227, Poole admitted owing $29,855 in unpaid state and local sales and withholding taxes to the State of Alabama, the letter states.

In a called meeting last Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to move forward to schedule Wednesday’s formal hearing.
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anonymous
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November 02, 2012
It's concerning to read that the board of elections has postponed their decision. After reading the paper I was under the impression that the purpose of this hearing was to give Mr. Poole the opportunity to present proof that the claims against him were not true and apparently he was not able to do that. It seems as though the decision should have been a simple conclusion - the board should do their job and uphold our state constitution!
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