Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph is seeking a new judge in his lawsuit against Orange County, claiming the current judge has a Republican bias in a lawsuit over partisan politics.
The partisan nature of the complaint may be relevant because the entire lawsuit is about an Orange County charter amendment dealing with partisanship.
Randolph and Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh, both Democrats, sued in 2014 claiming that an Orange County charter amendment sent to the voters was illegal. That amendment, later overwhelmingly approved in the November, 2014, election, declared county charter officer elections, such as Randolph’s and Singh’s to be non-partisan.
The charter amendment was placed on the ballot by a Republican-led Orange County Commission and Republican Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Randolph and Singh seek to overturn it.
The stakes are tied to Orange County’s voter base, which is trending increasingly Democratic.
On Friday Randolph filed a motion accusing the trial judge, Circuit Court Judge Keith White, of having undisclosed relationships with two key Republicans in the charter amendment issue. The motion calls for White to recuse himself. Singh was not party to the motion.
The timing is last-minute, and gives White an immediate decision to make. The judge has docketed an evidentiary hearing Monday. He is expected to rule immediately following the hearing, or at least within a week, bringing the 19-month-old suit to a close.
Randolph’s motion charges that White has made more than $25,000 in campaign contributions to Republicans, including a $500 donation ten years ago to then Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer, who now is on the Orange County Charter Review Commission, and that he has received campaign money from Kevin Shaughnessy, the current commission chairman.