In a press release from Ford County Administrator J.D. Gilbert, the Ford County Board of County Commissioners made a statement regarding the ACLU lawsuit of Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox on behalf of the Ford County Commissioners.

The lawsuit comes from the 2018 election when the county clerk moved the one polling location to the Western State Bank Expo Center from the Dodge City Civic Center.

In the press release it states, "As with the previous press releases and information provided by the ACLU, the latest information is intellectually dishonest, intentionally misleading and uninformed.

"It is a fact that the County has paid $70,000-plus for legal fees in defense of the ACLU’s legal action against Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox."

Gilbert lays out several points: It is intellectually dishonest to present the thought that County Clerk Debbie Cox is choosing to pay legal fees only using tax funds as if there are other funds to choose from; It is misleading and uninformed to present the statement that County Clerk Debbie Cox chose to pay legal fees over voter operations; It is misleading to present information as if the County filed the lawsuit and is choosing to expend taxpayer dollars; In spite of the ACLU’s lawsuit having questionable legal merit, the ACLU continues to pursue it and, as a result, places Ford County in the position of continuing to expend taxpayer dollars to defend the claims of the ACLU; It is misleading and uninformed that the ACLU has taken the position that the county clerk does not have the statutory responsibility for elections on behalf of the citizens as opposed to private special interest groups such as itself and it is misleading and intellectually dishonest for the ACLU to present their claims to the citizens of Ford County as if they do not have basis in political motivation as opposed to legal merit.

Gilbert adds that the ACLU has strategically chosen legal action over other alternatives in place to hold elected officials accountable.

"Accountability is clearly not the primary purpose of the ACLU," Gilbert said. "For example, a representative from the ACLU has never attended a public meeting of the Board of County Commissioners to voice concerns about how elections are conducted in Ford County.

"The ACLU has not made any attempts to understand local county government organizational charts or budgeting processes. The ACLU has instead chosen to grandstand by commencing and now continuing costly litigation and those costs are directly paid by tax funds."

According to Gilbert, the county has continued to stay dedicated and focused on service to the citizens of Ford County and they continue to thank all of the citizens in the county for their continued support.

The Topeka Capital Journal had reported that the county paid $71,481 to the Hinkle Law firm that came from the county's general fund in October and November 2018 for legal fees from the lawsuit that was filed by the ACLU.

On election day in November 2018, Cox told reporters that more than one polling location will be put in place for the 2020 election in Dodge City.

At this time, where those locations will be have not been released.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com