Judges won’t investigate electoral board

Published 11:51 pm Friday, October 8, 2010

The Suffolk Circuit Court judges have declined to investigate alleged misdoings by a member of the Suffolk Electoral Board, saying the court cannot act on the request of City Council.

“This court has no authority to undertake the requested action except upon a petition signed by a majority of the members of the State Board of Elections,” says the letter, signed by judges Rodham T. Delk Jr. and Carl Edward Eason Jr. “It therefore follows that we must respectfully decline the request of the City Council.”

The city’s governing body had asked the judges to investigate the electoral board and registrar’s office based on a protracted vacancy in the registrar position and the former registrar’s accusations that a member of the electoral board sent her a sexually inappropriate email during her employment.

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Sharon Thornhill says David Sylvia, the electoral board’s secretary, sent her an email titled “14 steps to putting on a bikini” in April. The missive features a naked woman having body paint applied to resemble a flower-print bikini.

Sylvia has admitted sending the email but insists he did not mean to send it to Thornhill. He says she tried to use it to “blackmail” him into getting a positive performance review.

Thornhill left the post Aug. 6 after she says she was forced to resign. A new registrar began work this week. Her appointment was announced after City Council sent the email to the Circuit Court.

Ken Carpenter, Suffolk Electoral Board chairman, said Friday it didn’t make any sense for the court to investigate something and then decide the case.

“How is it that you get a judge to investigate something, and then he takes it before himself?” Carpenter said. “It has to be brought from the outside to them.”

Carpenter added he thinks that Sylvia did not intend to send the email to Thornhill.

“When she brought that up, he looked extremely surprised,” Carpenter said. “Either he was putting on a really, really good act, or he was indeed surprised.”

Carpenter also received the email and says he told Sylvia not to send him any more similar emails.

“He didn’t show any big surprise, but he told me later that he didn’t know he sent it to me,” Carpenter said. “I don’t think he intended to send it to her. I don’t even think he intended to send it to me. You don’t send to your business associates what you would send to your buddies.”