PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

December 19, 2012

Sigee sues for county office

Josh Brown
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The battle for Jefferson County’s tax office is still not finished.

Democrat Thomas Sigee, who lost the race for tax-assessor collector by 16 votes in the November election, has filed a lawsuit with the 60th District Court against Republican incumbent Shane Howard.

According to the lawsuit petition, Sigee wants the 520 provisional ballots that were not tallied to count toward the election because either the voter application was not processed timely, the voter was not directed to the proper polling location, or the information left off the affidavit was “not mandatory but directory.”

He also claims certain votes were illegal and should be thrown out of the election. These include ballots cast by people who “were not a resident of Jefferson County” or who moved out of the county but voted in the election for this issue, the petition said.

If he wins the case, Sigee wants the court to “declare him the winner of the election at issue” or “void the results of the election and order a new election.”

Sigee filed for a recount after the provisional ballots were tallied in November, but he eventually withdrew his request because paper ballots would not have been included.

“It’s not worth going down that road,” he said at the time.

The recount would have cost Sigee about $11,000 plus $100 for each polling station.

Howard said he was not shocked when the lawsuit was presented to him, because “once someone is obsessed with something you can’t really be surprised at anything they do.”

The only thing that was surprising, Howard said, is that Sigee is throwing his own political party and the county clerk under the bus.

“He’s basically accusing them of not doing their job,” he said. “And the funny thing is my office found those issues and addressed them to make sure those people were accounted for.”

Howard said he thinks the lawsuit is “an effort by a powerful special interest group that’s trying to create confusion where there is none.”

“I think they’re targeting me rather than helping him,” he said.

Howard backed his theory by saying the lawsuit will cost Sigee at least five times more than the amount it took to run his election campaign.

“I have absolute confidence in the county clerk and the courts,” he said. “I think the will of the people will be upheld. It’s just unfortunate for everyone who has to go through this.”

Sigee did not return multiple calls for comment by press time.

Email: jbrown@panews.com

Twitter: @joshnathanbrown