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Seminole elections supervisor seeks investigation into discrimination claims



Nearly two months after sharing on social media allegations that he has faced racial discrimination as Seminole County’s first Black supervisor of elections, Chris Anderson is calling on the Florida Republican party to open an investigation into his claims.

Anderson, a Republican, on Monday morning emailed an eight-page letter to Florida GOP Chairman Christian Ziegler and other prominent Republicans including Gov. Ron DeSantis, state Sen. Jason Brodeur, state Rep. David Smith and Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

“As the Chairman of our party, you have the authority, duty, and humane obligation to address these racial discrimination and retaliation concerns swiftly,” Anderson wrote to Ziegler.

Reached Monday afternoon, Ziegler said he had not yet reviewed the letter but added that while the Republican Party of Florida may investigate violations of party rules, an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination would be outside of the organization’s role and that Anderson’s claims should be handled locally. Ziegler declined to comment further.

In his letter, Anderson repeated claims that he has faced intimidation, unnecessary investigations and has had his position of authority undermined by other elected officials and members of the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee.

To bolster his claims, Anderson described an attempt by Seminole County Commissioner Amy Lockhart to exclude him from a meeting about matters related to county elections. When describing the conversations leading up to the meeting which was ultimately canceled, Anderson alleged that Bruce Cherry, chairman of the Seminole County Republican Party, had also faced racial discrimination and had shared his experience with Anderson in August.

Cherry, who is a Black man, confirmed speaking with Anderson in August but told the Sentinel he never accused anyone of racism.

“I can tell you, in the conversation I had with the Supervisor of Elections in August, I did not mention any kind of discrimination from anyone,” Cherry said. “I mentioned I was having a bit of a challenge politically, me being new at this, but that was it.”

Cherry said he had not been informed the letter had been written and had no further comment.

Lockhart, who earlier this month wrote a letter to DeSantis asking the governor’s office to investigate Anderson’s behavior, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anderson was appointed by DeSantis to the supervisor of elections post in 2019. He was reelected in 2020 to a four-year term, and has said he plans to seek reelection in 2024.

Anderson, Seminole’s first and only Black constitutional officer, posted an emotional video on TikTok in September saying that that he had encountered repeated racism from county leaders since he first took office nearly five years ago.

“I’ve experienced so much racism since I have been here,” said Anderson alongside his wife in the 10-minute video. “That day, after I was appointed [by DeSantis], my wife and I had a meeting with individuals in this county, white men, who told us: They said, ‘Listen, white people consider you as a Black person to be stupid, to be dumb, and that you’ll ‘F’ something up.’ That’s exactly what they said.”

A little over a month after Anderson’s TikTok video, Lockhart sent her letter to DeSantis, asking his office to investigate Anderson’s seemingly “erratic” and “combative” conduct.

Lockhart’s letter said she and other county commissioners have “been made aware that a toxic, if not hostile, work environment” exists at the elections office, and that she was concerned that longtime employees there were recently terminated or resigned.  She also said in the letter that Anderson had “indignant exchanges” with commissioners during budget hearings, and he had been “antagonistic” with other county officials and residents.

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