A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office employee is accusing Charles Boswell, a candidate for Sheriff, of voter intimidation and a bevy of other voting violations.
Boswell is running against incumbent Sheriff Chad Chronister in the GOP primary next week.
Edward Raburn filed an ethics complaint with the Florida Elections Commission outlining a verbal confrontation between himself and Boswell on Aug. 5 at about 2:50 p.m.
In the complaint obtained by Florida Politics, Raburn claims he was “standing in the parking lot of the Quintilla Greer Bruton Memorial Library” working as a campaign volunteer for Chronister’s campaign, wearing a Chronister campaign T-shirt and holding a “Chad Chronister for Sheriff” campaign sign.
Raburn said the location is an early voting site and was open to polling at the time of the altercation.
Boswell reportedly approached Raburn in his vehicle and rolled the window down, indicating he wanted to speak to Raburn.
He then asked Raburn, “so do you think my chances of winning are good?” Raburn responded, “no, not really,” according to the report, which he said angered Boswell.
Boswell then reportedly said, “I’ll remember this when I’m your boss, pal,” and drove away.
Raburn claims the comment violated the Voter Protection Act, which provides that “a person may not directly or indirectly use or threaten to use force, violence, or intimidation or any tactic of coercion or intimidation to induce or compel an individual to vote or refrain from voting for any particular individual or ballot measure.”
His complaint emphasized the latter part of the act referencing intimidation.
“Mr. Boswell’s statements were clearly intended to threaten my employment with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office due to the fact that I would not support his candidacy in the race for Sheriff, and any reasonable person would have understood his statements to mean that my employment would be in danger should he win the election.”
Raburn also claims Boswell violated Florida statute dealing with voting rights and interference.
Florida State Statute 104, section 0515 says “no person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to … any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or not to vote as that person may choose.”
Again, Raburn said Boswell’s comments were a clear attempt to intimidate his vote by threatening his employment with the Sheriff’s Office.
Boswell is something of a long shot candidate in the race. His fundraising efforts pale in comparison to Chronister’s and his campaign has been based on unsubstantiated claims, including an ongoing lawsuit, attempting to paint Chronister as a corrupt cop.
He has found some support in far right circles among those critical of Chronister’s across the aisle dealings with Democrats and past support for Democratic candidates. In 2012, Chronister donated $15,000 to then-President Barack Obama and another $5,000 to the Democrats National Committee.
Chronister has raised more than $300,000 for his campaign compared to Boswell’s $45,000. To make that gap even more daunting, Chronister’s affiliated political committee, Friends of Chad Chronister, has raked in another nearly $1 million.
The winner of the GOP primary will take on Democrat Gary Pruitt and no-party-affiliated candidate Ron McMullen in the Nov. 3 general election.
McMullen has raised just over $38,000 and has about $22,000 left to spend. Pruitt has raised less than $14,000 and has spent almost all of it, leaving Chronister with a strong financial edge in the general should he survive the primary.