The Tennessean is reporting that a federal lawsuit has been filed for ousted Democratic county election administrators. The suit alleges Republicans conspired to treat their jobs as political patronage jobs and violated their constitutional rights. The lawsuit comes in addition to five lawsuits filed separately in various chancery courts by individuals fired as county election administrators. Some of those lawsuits also were filed by Nashville attorneys Gary Blackburn and John Ray Clemmons, who are lawyers for the eight administrators bringing the federal action.
Two former East Tennessee election administrators - Dana Zehner of Loudon County and Brenda Dodson of Rhea County - are among the eight plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court lawsuit.
All the plaintiffs were hired as administrators when Democrats controlled county election commissions in all 95 Tennessee counties. Seven have since lost their jobs to Republicans and the eighth, Hooper Penuel of Rutherford County, stands to lose his job "unless we stop it" through the lawsuit, Blackburn said in an interview.
Blackburn told the Tennessean, "we know commissioners in many cases were told to only vote for Republicans as an administrator." He also said he believes key Republican legislators, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, were involved in the movement.
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