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State Attorney Skip Jarvis Meets the Competition:
Jarvis and Siegmeister face off at the Tea Party

State Attorney Jarvis makes a point while challenger Siegmeister listens.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night State Attorney Skip Jarvis met face to face with his opponent, Jeff Siegmeister, at the North Central Florida Tea Party. Mr. Siegmeister is looking to unseat Mr. Jarvis from the position to which he was elected in 2008, after a 24 year career with the State Attorney's Office. Last night, the topic most on people's minds was Florida's notorious public corruption. This race is for the 3rd Judicial Circuit, which includes Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor Counties.

Candidates introduce themselves (in order of appearance)

Jeff Siegmeister - The challenger:

This is the first time my opponent and I have been in the same place under this format. My name is Jeff Siegmeister and I'm running for State Attorney. I moved to Lake City about 20 years ago. I grew up across the river in Lake Butler and I was taught to believe in right and wrong. One of the best jobs I ever had was as an assistant state attorney. Being a prosecutor is a noble profession.

I am running because I have an affinity to law enforcement. I was raised by cops and for almost 15 years I taught cops. I was a cop. It is important to have a working relationship with the law enforcement community. Public safety begins with an efficient handling of criminal charges. Before you take someone's liberty, you have to be right.

I have almost 20 years of trying cases. I have tried cases on both sides.

Why do I want this job? Because it is a noble calling. You have to acknowledge people's liberty, but seek justice on behalf of the victims of crimes. I've done both.

I will make efficient use of tax dollars and remind my people that it costs $30,000 a year to incarcerate someone. We had better be willing to look at the taxpayers and say it was justified.

Skip Jarvis - The incumbent:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am Robert L. Jarvis Junior, but my friends know me as Skip.

In 2008, I came out to all the people in this circuit and I said, "I want you to elect me State Attorney. I've been with the office for 24 years."

I made three promises.

One -- that I would be open and accountable. If you had a question or criticism, I would be the man to come to.

I have been accountable. I have made some very tough decisions in the last 3 1/2 years. They are my decisions. I am responsible and I stand behind them.

The second promise I made is that I would work closely with law enforcement.

The third promise I made was that I would try and bring integrity back to the system. After I moved into my predecessor's seat, I learned that a lot of decisions Jerry Blair [former State Attorney] made were absolutely right.

When I took office [2008] Florida's economy had come to a screeching halt. I took office on a reduced budget. I didn't think I was going to be able to pay my people. We struggled and made it through the year. Then I got hit with another $310,000 budget cut.

We are not like the folks in the south end of the state where they say, "We are not going to take these cases." Every single case that comes to my door is considered and is determined whether or not it is a valid case.

I personally handled cases of breach of public trust. I don't think my staff should handle those -- I handle them personally. Thank goodness we have very few of those kinds of cases.

It doesn't matter if you're a republican or democrat. I don't care if you're a communist. Your State Attorney has a duty to take care of you as a citizen.

In the last four years, I have shown you that I can run the office of the State Attorney. I'm asking you to put me back in as State Attorney so that I can continue doing what I have been doing.

The North Central FL Tea Party is always well attended.


For Mr. Jarvis

How backed up are we, as far as caseloads?

"I anticipated this question. Last year I got in 13,275 pleadings."

Mr. Jarvis explained that many times his office is not responsible for how quickly a case moves through the courts.

He said, "We are pushing cases as quickly as we can."

Observer Question for both candidates:

Historically, as is well known, Florida is number one in corruption of public officials. Florida is number one in federal indictments. It appears that in Florida the only way a public official can get in trouble or indicted is if the feds come in. Columbia County is a legend. Can you tell us your plans to stop the corruption in this county?

Mr. Siegmeister:

"I don't have any ties to any elected officials. Sometimes you need a grand jury to indict -- sometimes you need a special prosecutor to prosecute. If you give me a case and prove that someone has done something wrong and it's within the power of the State Attorney's Office -- prosecute it."

Mr. Jarvis:

"I'm going to be very personal. A lot of the stuff that comes in to me is through your e-mails."

Other than in one case, in which the State Attorney's Office, willfully and intentionally, disappeared files that were hand delivered and stamped received, the few e-mails sent directly to Mr. Jarvis were marked -- for information. Mr. Jarvis had never acknowledged any of those until last night.

Mr. Jarvis said that in order to prosecute he needs sworn affidavits.

Mr. Jarvis said, "I have prosecuted for what I consider breach of public trust."

Your reporter followed up, "When was this?"

Mr. Jarvis, "Pardon me?"

Your reporter, "What year did you do this?"

Mr. Jarvis turned to Mr. Siegmeister and asked, "What year was Shay's case."

Ms. Shay stood up in the audience and supplied the missing information. "2009," she said.

Then, Mr. Jarvis said to your reporter, "We don't need to do that. We don't need to embarrass anybody. Just let that go."

Your reporter, "I didn't embarrass anybody, I just asked you what the date was."

The Gun Issue:

Both candidates are in favor of the Second Amendment and the right to carry.

Question: Would you be in favor of night court?

Mr. Siegmeister:  That is a good idea. There are plenty of good ideas that make things more efficient. Night court may be good for some of the areas, but not all.

Mr. Jarvis:  We agree on something -- good idea. That way people could come at night and not miss work... With budget cuts looming it may be a good idea, but we have to be able to pay for it.

Question: What do you have to bring to the State Attorney to start a grand jury investigation for political corruption or abuse of power?

Mr. Jarvis:  Your State Attorney is not your intake agency. [When] Somebody comes with that type of information, we refer them to FDLE, or if it is an elected official, we refer it to the Office of Executive Investigations out of the governor's office, where FDLE agents are specifically assigned to do those. I don't do the investigations and I would not send them to my local Sheriff or my local police department because of the nature of the investigation.

Mr. Siegmeister:  Mr. Siegmeister explained how a grand jury works. Mr. Siegmeister said, "I will do the right thing."

The final question: More on political corruption

The question was asked again: What does one do to begin an action for political corruption?

Political corruption is on people's minds.

Mr. Siegmeister:  Make a public records request. If the person doesn't give it to you, sue em... If you see someone violating the Sunshine law, put it in front of a grand jury and they decide. You are talking about investigating. That shouldn't be a problem. That's why we have public records laws. And that's why there's fee provisions. Sue and your attorney gets paid."

Mr. Jarvis:  I think you asked, how does a citizen get it started? Very simple, if you think you've got something bring it to me. I will pick up the phone; I will call FDLE; I will call the Governor's Office of Executive Investigations. Let them come take your statement -- get the facts from you -- they will investigate... Politically, the State Attorney would go to the grand jury just because of the politics of it.


The position of State Attorney is one of the most important positions a citizen can elect. In the blink of an eye, a State Attorney can screw up your life forever, or allow somebody else to do it. One might think that reaching out to the citizens in the circuit would be a prime goal of a State Attorney.

A look at the Third Judicial State Attorney's web site speaks for itself. Other than a little box to contact the State Attorney's office, it is supplies no useful information, unless you are looking to find out about Mr. Jarvis's personal information or the office hours. Mr. Jarvis does not even give up the address of his office.

The State Attorney takes an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, as well as the Constitution and Statutes of Florida, as they relate to the prosecution of crimes committed against citizens. That is the charge of the State Attorney. It would be nice if Mr. Jarvis told somebody that.

To quote State Attorney Skip Jarvis, "I'm going to be very personal."

Looking to drop a dime on public corruption? Go somewhere else. 

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On June 20, Jeffery Brown of Lake City wrote:

I am first thankful for the Tea Party & Jackie Taylor's participation and open forum.

My question to Mr. Jarvis that night was perhaps redundant as to the Sheriff's refusal to answer about first hand knowledge and complaints occurring in his jail (actually the county's).  Sheriff Hunter refused to answer my question - but give political retoric as to his pride in 'His' organization.  Yet with correspondence, public knowledge he did nothing - when informed that crimes had been committed on 'His' watch.  He stated: I won't talk to you because of current litigation, yet stated no one had sued him while in office.  Does anyone see a disparity? And if a crime is committed and reported, 'His' constitutional duty, and to that of the citizens is to investigate - regardless of what is happening in the Courts.

As to Mr. Jarvis we got at least a little more.  He would talk, not refuse to answer questions.  Just did not answer the question, or answered another way.  Mr. Jarvis' office with known loss and tampering of evidence still prosecuted a case against me.  This one, after 17 other attempts that failed.  For reporting crimes against myself and our Church/ministry.  Which include theft, vandalism and false arrest.  Over $100,000 in damages which may be seen before the repair and cleanup is now happening.  $100,000 and the Sheriff and State Attorney do nothing, but arrest and prosecute the victim who called in the crime.

We help the homeless and needy of/in/or passing through this county.  That is not a crime on our books.  It is in Orlando and several other cities and states, but not here! Or is it?  The Property Assessor - took away our local tax exemption because I was FALSELY - and is shown in the public records  held in jail without bond for 250 days.  The assistant state attorney - who I hope Mr. Jarvis is responsible for "asked for a $500,000 bond" for a misdemeanor for calling in a crime.  But our ministries continued regardless.

I guess the Federal Court is the only place to get justice and out from behind the violations of the Sunshine laws.  What a shame the citizens have to pay for the corruption - a State Grand Jury has already declared has ruined the reputation of Florida and is the worst in the Nation (Dec 2010).  And nothing has been done about it.

One can't make a sworn affidavit to the State Attorney from jail, when the jail provides no notary. One can only affirm, which I did numerous times and eventually got the "hidden evidence" which got the charges dropped.  The crimes I saw in jail are numerous and severe.

Please people...wake up, stand up, insist on what is right; or everything our founding father's created will be destroyed by the corruption that does exist.


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