Carolyn Cosby was asked to leave the Canton Post Office on Tuesday, after complaints to police and the USPS said that she was illegally collecting signatures on her petition to be put on the ballot as an independent to run against the Republican incumbent in November.
USPS spokesman Michael Miles said Wednesday Cosby was asked to leave the post office on Riverstone Boulevard, after residents reported they had been harassed by Cosby’s group outside the entrance of the building.
“I don’t know that they went into a lot of detail, but I know the word ‘harassment’ was used in one of the calls that I received,” Miles said. He added petitioning on postal property is illegal, per federal regulations.
But Cosby is placing the blame squarely on the chairman and his supporters for the complaints.
Cosby, who is petitioning to run in the November election, sent out a press release responding to the incident Wednesday. She denied the reports and blamed Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens and his supporters in a local activist group, SCRAM!, for making complaints against her, allegedly in a political attack to stop her from getting signatures and getting on the ballot.
Ahrens, though, said Cosby’s accusations he had anything to do with the complaints was another example of her false claims against him.
“She ought to get her facts straight,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not playing her game. I had nothing to do with it at all.”
Cosby said she and her supporters were at the post office Monday and Tuesday, “with the full knowledge and permission of the Canton postmaster.”
The postal spokesman was surprised when told about that statement.
“If she is saying that, that is contrary to what I’ve been told,” Miles said. “He was pretty clear about what he told her. He told her she couldn’t be there.”
Told the postal service’s position, Cosby clarified in a phone interview she felt her group had the postmaster’s blessing, because he didn’t say they couldn’t be there.
“He didn’t give us permission; we were operating with his permission. He did not come out and ask us to remove ourselves,” Cosby said. “We had permission from him a year ago. We were out there for a couple of weeks. We came back in on Monday morning, and we said, ‘We’re going to be out again and please let the post master know,’ and he never came out and asked us to leave.”
The postmaster, Robert Eaton, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
Cosby said she wasn’t sure if what she did was truly illegal.
“We don’t know that it’s illegal; they’re asserting it’s illegal and they haven’t been challenged on this,” she said. “My attorney is looking at their interpretation of this regulation. We didn’t go out there in defiance of the law.”
Miles, though, said, “Our policy has been upheld by a court.”
According to a police report from the Canton Police Department, the officer who was sent Monday to check on complaints made to the police department also wasn’t aware what Cosby was doing was illegal.
“I informed them that as far as I was concerned, they were exercising their First Amendment rights,” the officer wrote in the report. “I did not request for them to leave the area.”
One of those who complained to the post office was Debbie Proctor, who said she is a member of SCRAM! Despite her involvement in the group, which has many members against Cosby, she said seeing the candidate at the post office was bothersome because it is illegal.
“It was people standing out in front of a post office doing something illegally,” Proctor said Wednesday.
Proctor said she called the post office and spoke with a supervisor, who she said told her Cosby had permission from a district supervisor, above the postmaster’s head.
“She said, ‘Ma’am I’m not going to argue with you, and she hung up the phone,” Proctor said.
Proctor said she has now filed a complaint with the district manager of postal operations.