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Several former and current Martin County Commissioners under investigations

Posted at 7:42 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 23:11:48-05

Two current Martin County Commissioners and one former commissioner face rarely enforced claims of violating the public records act.  

The Martin County State Attorney's Office said they are in the middle of an active investigation and will not comment. The Governor's office said they are reviewing all three cases.

This all began with public records request from February on 2013 that sparked the arrest of a current county commissioner and a former one.  It stems from a legal battle with Lake Point Rock Quarry.

In 2013, Lake Point sued Martin County for alleged contract violation and even went as far as to say certain commissioners destroyed and deleted public records. The company recently settled a lawsuit for millions of dollars with the county. 

Last night, separately, Commissioner Ed Fielding and former Commissioner Ann Scott, who is also a former judge, turned themselves into the Martin County Jail. 

Both face two counts of a misdemeanor criminal charge of failing to allow the viewing or copying of a public record. 

"The fact that these commissioners turned themselves in just means that the grand jury or some other form of initiating a prosecutorial process has begun," said Deanna Shullman, an attorney who practices public records litigation.

"Throughout the process there may be a plea arrangement or settlement reached but it does mean the prosecution of these individuals has begun in a formal legal sense."

Current Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard entered a not guilty plea to a non-criminal claim of failure of a public official to respond to a public records request. 

"Having this is important to public right to access," said Schullman. "It acts as a very powerful deterrent for public officials who would destroy records or turn them over."

The county said no one has resigned as of yet. Commissioner Doug Smith told me it's premature to talk about that and we should let the courts play out their process.

There are two county commission meetings left before the end of the year.  It's unclear if those in question will be in attendance.