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Speaking at a tea party? You're fired!
Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 06/03/2010 @ 5:01 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Former Live Oak prosecutor KrisAnne Hall
When an assistant state attorney in Florida spoke at several tea-party rallies about her beliefs and the Constitution, her boss, a prominent Democrat, fired her – but now protesters are taking to the streets to get her job back.
Former Live Oak prosecutor KrisAnne Hall, was ousted May 24 by Democrat Robert “Skip” Jarvis, state attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida, after he said she refused to stop speaking at tea-party rallies, on the radio and to the Suwannee County Republican Executive Committee.
Hall, a 40-year-old mother and U.S. Army veteran who describes herself as a “constitutional originalist” and “fan of American Revolutionary history,” sought an injunction in federal court to allow her to continue speaking. Three days later, Jarvis received the motion and fired her. Now Hall is suing, claiming her First Amendment rights have been violated.
“I shouldn’t have to trade my constitutional rights for a paycheck,” she told Florida’s Fox 30 News. “If we don’t learn why we have the Constitution that we have, we are doomed to repeat the history that brought it to us.”
Tea partiers rally for fired prosecutor
The North Central Florida 9/12 Project called an 11 a.m. “free speech” rally outside Jarvis’ office in Live Oak, telling tea-party protesters to “bring your signs and let people know that you are standing up for our constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of speech.”
Hall spoke to WND while the rally was taking place.
“There are about 100 people,” she said. “I’m really impressed because that’s good for our little town. They’ve come from as far as Tallahassee.”
According to her request for an injunction, Hall had made an appearance on a local radio program and “addressed a variety of issues of public concern, including constitutional originalism, the legal dispute between the State of Florida and the federal government over the recent national health care bill and the threat posed by large federal budget deficits.”
The Gainesville Tea Party released a copy of Hall’s April speech to its group, noting that she spoke about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and the importance of informing and educating oneself.
Hall claims she didn’t discuss cases handled by the state’s attorney’s office during her speaking engagements, and she was introduced only as an attorney with expertise in constitutional matters. Hall also explained that she spoke at the events on her own time as a private citizen – not an employee of the state’s attorney’s office.
“I never said anything bad about my office,” she told WND. “I never said anything bad about my boss. I never talked about my cases.”
She added, “When I stand up to speak, I don’t consider myself a motivational speaker. I consider myself a teacher. That’s why I was asked to come and speak on the Constitution, based on the perspective of our Founding Fathers and blend it with current events. I think that’s what my speeches did.”
Robert “Skip” Jarvis, state attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida
Jarvis, who claims Florida law allows him to appoint and fire his assistants without cause, wrote a series of e-mails on April 22 and 23, according to the complaint. He told her to stop speaking before a “fringe right-wing group” and ordered her to “disassociate yourself from these folks.”
“He wrote a letter to my attorney telling him that he could hire and fire me at will and I had a choice to make: I could speak or I could work for him,” Hall said. “He was clearly throwing down the gauntlet, saying you can keep your First Amendment rights or you can work for me.”
However, as the chairman of the Suwannee County Democratic Executive Party, Jarvis himself was involved in politics and spoke at political events while he was the assistant state attorney.
“I spoke to Democrats, Republicans, independents, everybody in that room,” he told Florida’s CBS 47 Action News. “It was on unity because I started out, ‘Look to you left. Look to your right. Everybody in this room is an American.’”
Hall said, “He was the Suwannee county chairman for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate – all while he was an assistant state attorney under our previous boss, Jerry Blair.”
Hall ‘spoke against the government’
However, he claims Hall went too far because she spoke out against the government.
“The position I’ve seen her advocate in some of her speeches is that ‘We the people think differently, and only we the people think like me.’ That is very divisive,” Jarvis said.
But Hall told the station she’s not against the government and she’s only attempting to convey the importance of the Constitution.
“He accused me of speaking out against the state of Florida because I was speaking for smaller government and less spending,” she said. “I don’t understand that because our governor – as popular or unpopular as he may be right now – that’s how he became governor of our state. He ran on that platform: less spending, smaller government.”
Jarvis told the station, “As a normal, private citizen, she would have every right to do [it]. However, when it reaches the point where it puts the state’s interest in conflict, that’s where that attorney must stop.”
Jarvis said he isn’t sure whether he would ever give Hall her job back – even if she stopped speaking at the tea-party events.
“Would I like to have her back – the old KrisAnne before she wanted to become the next Sarah Palin?” Jarvis asked. “I would love to have the old KrisAnne back.”
Now Hall and her lawyer are suing Jarvis for retaliatory conduct. Hall said she enjoys being a prosecutor, but she would only go back under certain conditions.
“I wouldn’t mind going back if I could be guaranteed that I wouldn’t be returning to a hostile environment,” she said.
But for the moment, Hall is a free agent.
“I’m unemployed,” she said. “It’s not good to be unemployed in this economy. I need to find somebody who wants a dedicated, hard-working attorney who believes in principles and will zealously represent a client based on those principles.”
Hall, a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, adjunct professor and former Army linguist, is now looking for an employer who will value her unwavering dedication to constitutional principles. Hall extended an invitation to prospective employers to contact her.
Disciplinary action for speaking at tea parties
Hall is not the first person to face disciplinary action for speaking at tea-party events. The Rapid City Journal reported KOTA-TV anchorman Shad Olson was suspended last month with pay after he appeared as a featured speaker at a tea-party rally in South Dakota.
Olson’s supervisors called his appearance “an ethical lapse” and took him off the air.
Olson said he spoke at the event because “I want people to fall back in love with their country based on what the founding principles are and the legacy left by the people who fought and bled and died to establish America on this continent.”
Olson was not fired, but he submitted his resignation following the incident. He said he plans to host a radio talk show and work as a paid political consultant.
“I’ve handed in my resignation,” he said. “In the wake of everything that happened, I just kind of felt it was time to do something else. I’m done as of today.”
Meanwhile, Hall said tea-party groups have booked her for numerous appearances in the upcoming weeks and months, and demand for her speeches has grown exponentially.
“It’s just crazy,” she said. “I never even imagined this. I put my speech up, and I got e-mails from people all over the country who want to repost my speech and send it out in the mail. It’s amazing.”
Even Florida’s attorney general and lieutenant governor have joined the debate in support of Hall.
“[I]t is my understanding that you have terminated Assistant State Attorney KrisAnne Hall for speaking at tea-party rallies,” state Attorney General Bill McCollum wrote in a letter to Jarvis. “Your response to her free speech activity is of concern to me. … I write to strongly urge you to reconsider your termination of Ms. Hall in respect to our nation’s honored tradition of free speech.”
Likewise, Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp wrote a letter to the Florida Times-Union stating that he “was shocked to learn that KrisAnne Hall, an assistant state attorney in Florida’s 3rd Judicial Circuit, was fired from her job for exercising her right to free speech. … Her firing was clearly wrong and a questionable act by the employer, the state attorney.”
Hall told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, “I don’t have an agenda. … I really, really believe that if people knew what I know about our history and about our Constitution, they’d become just as passionate as I am about this, and we could spark a fire across this country.”
Meanwhile, the North Central Florida 9/12 Project issued an action alert, telling tea partiers, “KrisAnne is now unemployed because of her desire to teach and inform people about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. As we move forward with ideas of how we can help, please pray for her and inform your neighbor of the battle we face.”
A fund has been set up to help Hall fight her legal battle:
The KrisAnne Hall Support Fund
P.O. Box 26
Wellborn, FL. 32094
(Note: Concerned individuals may contact State Attorney General Bill McCollum and State Attorney Robert “Skip” Jarvis at (386) 362-2320.)
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