Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ed Martin Sued by Former Board of Elections Employee for Comments in RFT

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Four years ago, Jeannie Bergfeld, who was once a high-ranking former employee at the city's bipartisan board of elections, filed suit against its two commissioners and then-chairman Ed Martin.

(Y'all know Ed -- he's the conservative sparkplug now running for Congress against Russ Carnahan, and is the subject of our current feature, "Tea Party Crasher").

In her 2006 complaint, Bergfeld claimed that Martin and his two colleagues -- all appointed by then-Republican governor Matt Blunt -- had canned her for being "not Republican enough."

When the parties settled the suit, they agreed in writing not to speak ill of each other.

Today, Bergfeld sued Martin -- again. She alleges that he violated that agreement by disparaging her in the pages of this week's RFT.

Backstory: When Govenor Blunt appointed Martin to lead the board alongside with Republican Angel McCormick Franks and Democrat Clarence Dula, it was a notoriously dysfunctional place (for more on that, click here). 

Within three months of taking the reins, Martin and his colleagues fired or demoted a half-dozen top staffers, including both Democrats and Republicans. Bergfeld was one of them.

She sued. And when the parties settled in 2007, the three commissioners signed the following agreement, according to Bergfeld's lawyer, Chet Pleban:
Jeanne Bergfeld served the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis over a 12-year period as a conscientious and dedicated professional. Ms. Bergfeld's departure from the Board arose from perceived differences on the best methods and organizational systems to meet new election requirements mandated by federal and state law. Any implication to the contrary is not accurate.
In the course of profiling Martin, RFT recently asked him about the claims in Bergfeld's original suit. We detailed his responses as follows:
Martin denies [the accusation Bergfeld was fired for not being Republican enough]. "She said she was a Republican; nobody ever questioned that," he tells RFT, adding that Bergfeld was a patronage employee who had enjoyed "twelve years of not having to do anything" and who "wasn't interested in changing."

Martin concludes: "We did everything we could, appropriately, to have her do her job, but it wasn't in the cards."
Saying those statements violate the settlement agreement, Bergfeld is asking for $25,000 in damages. Pleban issued a press release announcing Bergfield's lawsuit earlier today.

As for Martin, he responded to the latest legal action via an e-mail from his press secretary, Theresa Petry:
Chet Pleban is a well known supporter of Congressman Carnahan and in the last 12 days of what is proving to be a highly contested election it's no surprise that personal attacks like this will be brought against Ed Martin and his campaign. They started with attacking Ed's family and now they're coming after him directly. It's purely a political play.
Check back for updates. 

Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 22, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation