Saturday, February 26, 2005


(Originally written Friday, 25 Feb, thus the Gayle Guyardo mention)

Had just awakened to NewsChannel 8 this morning and here's anchor Gayle Guyardo (a wonderful way to wake up in the morning, BTW) mentioning that Polk County political activist Dewey Smith has been indicted by a grand jury for knowingly submitting petitions with forged signatures...including that of Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards.

Smith, who had led the successful drive a couple of years ago to slash county commissioner's salaries in half, was working on a threefold campaign:

1) To slash the salaries of constitutional officers.
2) Place term limits on their holding office (eight years), and
3), Make them, in effect, department heads under the direct supervision of the County Commission.

In addition, he was indicted for breaking state campaign finance law as he accepted a $5,000 contribution from a supporter to help pay the people needed to collect the signatures...the limit for such contributions is $100.

Smith, who is 76, has admitted to people that he knowingly turned in petitions with bogus signatures as a means of "testing" elections officials to see if they could catch the fraud. As a result, Smith now faces a total of 20 years in prision --- a life sentence, in effect, considering his advanced age and health--- for his "test".

IMHO: If you really want to get caught, just have three or four forged signatures of the Supervisor of Elections ready to turn in among the piles. Someone in her office will catch it. My guess is that Dewey will now attempt a defense in which he claims that the "establishment" in Bartow is "out to get him". Sorry, Dew...that's what happens when ya do something STUPID!

UPDATE / Saturday, 26 February: The Lakeland Ledger published the Grand Jury's presentation which announced the indictment of Dewey Smith, but which also criticized SOE Lori Edwards for not following the Charter "to the letter" in handling his group's petition drive. Click here to check out the presentation in it's entirity.


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