Two members of the Sarasota County Charter Review Board are being accused of overstepping their authority by looking into setting up "people's common law grand juries" that would infringe upon the powers of other elected and appointed officials, the Raw Story's Travis Gettys reports.
The board -- whose actual purpose is meet three times per year to adjudicate small changes to the county charter -- was tasked by Tea Party activist Rodger Dowdell in May to investigate the possibility of using the power of such grand juries, which he claims "come from God." According to Dowdell, they can "without any probable cause, go into any nook or cranny of government -- local, state or federal -- research anything that’s going on and root out corruption."
All he wants is for the charter review board to follow "the contract we call the Constitution, and start obeying the law. It’s very simple." The board did not think so in May, rejecting his call to study the issue by a 4-4 vote. Unfortunately, according to the board's chair, there's a "loophole" in the board's bylaws that allows common law grand jury advocates to bring up the proposal at every single meeting.
That's a loophole she will aim to close, telling the Herald-Tribune that "we'll try to do is to make it so the same concept should be able to be brought up once within a specific time. We'll create a time limit."
"It can't go on forever," she added. "There should be some limitations on how often something can be brought up."
But two of her fellow board members, Pat Wayman and Steven R. Fields, are just as committed to continuing to bring the issue to the table. On her Facebook page, Wayman posted a link to a prominent example of the kind of citizen arrests and trials that those calling for common law grand juries want -- a petition to execute President Barack Obama for "murder and treason."
As Barcomb -- who is herself a Republican -- told the Herald-Tribune, she was unaware of the extreme nature of the ideas that were being proposed. "That's the antithesis of what I'm about. I don’t think board knew anything about that concept. It was a group of individuals who presented a concept to the board."
For his part, Fields seemed very aware of the nature of the proposition. "If someone brings an idea that we can do, that’s something we should take a look at," he said. "I’ve seen the federal government grabbing more rights away from people. They bribe states into federal control. The Charter Review Board should not be acting like the County Commission and protecting the status quo."
Despite such grand juries being a hallmark of the sovereign citizens movement, Fields insisted that he doesn't believe this proposal "has anything to do with sovereign citizens."