Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ed Martin Denies Disparaging Former Elections Worker; We've Got the Tape

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 7:15 AM

click to enlarge Ed Martin, 2010 Congressional candidate can't recall what he told us - PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
  • Ed Martin, 2010 Congressional candidate can't recall what he told us
For an attorney and Congressional hopeful, Ed Martin sure has a funky memory.

The Tea Party favorite can't seem to get his story straight when it comes to Jeanne Bergfeld, whom he fired from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners in 2005. Was she competent or not? Six years after her termination, that question has become a political liability for Martin: Bergfeld is suing him for making disparaging comments about her to the Riverfront Times last year.

In response to Bergfeld's lawsuit, Martin first denied making the comments in question. Then, in a recent deposition, he claimed he simply couldn't remember either way.

That confusion may be real. What's more troubling is this: Martin's former campaign spokeswoman now suggests that Martin tried to bully her into changing her version of events in order to back up his own.

It's time to set the record straight.

In 2005, Martin took the helm as chairman of the infamously dysfunctional board. Even Democrats give him props for turning that ship around. 

Ed Martin did, in fact, change the Board of Election Commissioners for the better - IMAGE VIA
  • Image via
  • Ed Martin did, in fact, change the Board of Election Commissioners for the better
Martin and fellow commissioners Clarence Dula and Angel McCormick Franks wrote near-identical letters to a half-dozen employees at the board on August 12, 2005, informing them that their performance just wasn't cutting the mustard.

While the message was uniform, discipline was not: Four employees were reassigned, while two were canned outright -- including the long-time assistant director of operations, Jeanne Bergfeld.

Bergfeld became convinced the real reason the commissioners booted her off the bi-partisan board was their desire to please conservative governor Matt Blunt. (While herself a Republican, she suspected she "wasn't Republican enough" for Blunt.) She filed a federal lawsuit against the commissioners to that effect in 2006.

In settling that case, Martin and his colleagues signed a statement that backpedaled sharply on their earlier criticism, stating:
Jeanne Bergfeld served the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis over a twelve-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.
Martin and crew also agreed, in writing, to not talk about the case or disparage Bergfeld publicly.

That should've been the end of it. But it wasn't.

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