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Petition to recall Lutz withdrawn
Committee chairman says group is preparing for a new and stronger case
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A group looking to recall the election of Hall County Commissioner Craig Lutz has withdrawn its application.

Kevin Kanieski, chairman of the recall effort, signed an affidavit to withdraw the application at the Hall County Board of Elections Office shortly after government offices opened Wednesday morning, Interim Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said.

Kanieski refused to answer any questions from The Times regarding his decision or in response to allegations by Lutz and his attorney that signatures may have been collected for the petition against procedure.

He would only read a prepared statement over the phone.

Kanieski, as the chairman of the recall committee, would have had to prove in court that "probable cause exists to show the grounds alleged" that Lutz violated Georgia's Open Meetings Law and illegally acted with two other commissioners to fire the county's top three administrators in January.

"In recent work with our legal counsel, we are even more convinced our position that (Lutz) violated the Open Meetings Law is correct," Kanieski said.

"Our withdrawal is only to prepare a new and stronger case for the court."

Bobby Hulsey, who has claimed to be the unofficial organizer of the Lutz recall effort, did not return a call seeking comment.

The group led by Hulsey and Kanieski presented a petition to the county interim elections director earlier this month, showing 229 signatures of people who said they wanted to have a chance to hold a recall election for the South Hall commissioner.

The group faced a court challenge from Lutz, who said through court documents that "irregularities" in the petition may render it void.

His attorney sent letters to each of the people named on the petition, asking each to state, under penalty of perjury, whether he or she signed the petition, the name of the person who circulated the petition and whether the signer was registered to vote in Lutz's district at the time he or she signed the petition.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Lutz's attorney Paul Stanley said the letters were an informal part of the discovery process. He planned to use the information to help determine that all the signatures on the petition were genuine.

Stanley said he had already found "some obvious discrepancies" in the application, though he declined to list them Tuesday.

Wednesday, Stanley issued a written statement that he would continue to seek a ruling on the application's merit.

"Today's withdrawal of the application for recall is nothing more than an attempt to delay the inevitable failure of the recall effort," Stanley said in the statement.

 

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