Former deputy clerk sues Stoddard County/Weeks
BLOOMFIELD — A former deputy clerk filed suit Tuesday morning against Stoddard County and her former boss for wrongfully terminating her for questioning irregularities in the April 2 municipal election.
Cape Girardeau attorney, Laura Clubb, filed the suit at 10:19 a.m. in Stoddard County Circuit Court on behalf of her whistle-blower client, Ginger McCoy.
A charge of discrimination also was filed Tuesday by McCoy with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and EEOC. In it, McCoy alleges sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
Both named Stoddard County and Stoddard County Clerk Cecil Weeks as defendants.
McCoy was fired April 8 from the clerk’s office where she had worked for about 13 years.
McCoy’s duties, according to the suit, included assisting with the mechanics and procedures of elections, assisting with election administration, assisting with preparing data for the Missouri Centralize Voter Registration database and assisting with election certification.
During her employment, McCoy reportedly “had an exemplary employment record and received regular raises and positive work evaluations.”
The suit says the April 2 election included a contested Dexter School Board race. The race reportedly was close, with candidate Ronald Glaus losing by only three votes.
On April 3, the suit says, McCoy was working the “poll pads” to sync them into the Missouri Centralize Voter Registration database. McCoy was comparing signatures to ballot counts.
During her signature and ballot comparison, McCoy “noticed that Stoddard County had two more ballots cast than there were signatures of registered voters in Dexter ward two,” Clubb wrote.
During her examination, Clubb said, her client “noticed two voters signed the precinct roster that were not registered to vote in Stoddard County.
One reportedly was registered in Butler County, while the other was registered in New Madrid County.
McCoy, the suit says, immediately brought these election irregularities to Weeks’ attention that day.
“Mrs. McCoy informed defendant Weeks that it would be a violation of law, with possible criminal penalties, to certify the election knowing of these election irregularities,” the suit says.
After telling Weeks, McCoy then reportedly contacted the election judges to ask about the signatures to see if “the judges could remember whether these two voters cast ballots in the April 2, 2019 election.”
Neither election judge reportedly could “definitely state whether she remembered if these two voters had cast ballots.”
On April 3, the suit further says, Stoddard County Assessor Dan Creg brought in three ballots from the night deposit that had been jamming up the ballot box.
“These three found ballots were not counted as part of the April 2, 2019, election totals …,” the suit says. “Despite evidence that the ballots were cast on April 2, 2019, defendant Weeks directed his staff to stamp the three ballots with the date ‘April 3, 2019,’ indicating that they had, in fact, been case” on that date.
The next day, the suit says, McCoy again told Weeks he should investigate and resolve the election irregularities before certifying the election. She also reportedly again told Weeks that it would be a violation of law to certify the election knowing irregularities existed.
“In response to Mrs. McCoy’s repeated complaints about the election irregularities, defendant Weeks became angry and agitated with Mrs. McCoy, but was dismissive of the reported election irregularities,” the suit further says.
McCoy further accuses Weeks of taking no action to investigate the reported election irregularities and believes Weeks did not seek assistance or legal advice about the situation.
Despite McCoy’s “repeated complaints,” Weeks reportedly certified the election on April 5.
When McCoy reported for work on April 8, the suit says, Weeks and Stoddard County Presiding Commissioner Danny Talkington refused to let her enter her office.
McCoy was fired at that time and not allowed to retrieve her personal belongings from her office.
Either prior to or subsequent to be fired, the suit says, McCoy filed complaints about the election irregularities or complained to Stoddard County, Weeks, Talkington, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
According to earlier reports, Hefner requested the patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control investigate the allegations.
Citing a conflict of interest, Oliver sought the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the case and file any charges if warranted.
The suit further alleges Stoddard County and Weeks fired McCoy in violation of state statute for disclosing the election irregularities, which she believed were a violation of law; for disclosing prohibited activity related to the defendants’ alleged failure to investigate and resolve the matter of the two improperly registered voters, Weeks’ alleged falsification of the dates on the three found ballots and activity related to the acetification of the April 2 election.
In her suit, McCoy is asking for actual damages in excess of $25,000 from both the county and Weeks, as well as attorneys’ fees.
Calls to Talkington and Weeks were not returned by press time.