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No action taken in Dan Raulerson ‘Wite-Out’ case

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It’s always a bad sign when a judge says he’s “not sure what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles W. Dodson took no action Tuesday in a hearing on a case seeking to disqualify state Rep. Dan Raulerson from running for re-election to his House District 58 seat.

His Democratic opponent, Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa, sued because Raulerson’s notary had incorrectly used “correction fluid” on his filing paperwork.

But Vazquez, who is representing himself, didn’t make clear the purpose for Tuesday’s hearing in Tallahassee. He later explained he wanted the judge to rule for him based on the “clear evidence.”

Vazquez has said Raulerson’s notary “improperly completed” his paperwork by whiting out the date on her notarization of his financial disclosure, changing it from an April to a June date.

He claimed that even if notaries are allowed to change such dates, the state’s notary manual says no “correction fluid” of any kind is allowed to be used.

Vazquez sued Raulerson, a two-term Plant City Republican, as well as Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer; Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections officer; and Kristi Reid Bronson, records bureau chief for the Division of Elections. He blamed all of them for not catching the error and allowing Raulerson to run.

Dodson ended the hearing after advising Vazquez to bone up on the state’s rules of civil procedure: “If we had different rules for people representing themselves, courts would get pretty chaotic.”

Afterward, Vazquez said he can’t afford an attorney and couldn’t find one to represent him pro bono: “They said they felt like they could be persecuted later.”

Meantime, Raulerson has a motion to dismiss pending — and Election Day is two weeks away.

“The case is clear; I have already proved my point,” Vazquez said. “The document is not going to change.”

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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