A candidate on the losing end of a ballot-stuffing scheme in Lincoln County is now suing a half dozen current and former county officials in federal court for $57,000, plus unspecific punitive damages. The lawsuit also sheds new light on Lincoln County’s 2010 Democratic primary, which is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation. Former county commission candidate Phoebe Harless said the officials – including all three sitting county commissioners – and a former felon deprived her of her civil rights by stacking the deck against her candidacy. Nitro attorney Harvey Peyton filed the lawsuit late last week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. It names the commissioners, the commission’s secretary, the former sheriff, the former county clerk, a government insurance risk pool and Wandell “Rocky” Adkins.
In 2006, Adkins was sentenced to four months in a federal halfway house for his involvement in another scheme in the 2004 Democratic primary. That time around, Adkins helped buy votes. Harless alleges Adkins was involved in the 2010 effort to rig the election. Adkins could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
The lawsuit said Adkins, Sheriff Jerry Bowman, County Clerk Donald Whitten and County Commissioner Thomas Ramey all visited the homes of a select group of Lincoln County voters to have them sign up for absentee ballots even though they weren’t eligible. It turns out the absentee ballots resulted in what federal prosecutors have called a ballot-stuffing scheme and that the vast majority of those votes benefited one political faction.