(WMC) - Shelby County commissioners put Election Commission Administrator Rich Holden in the hot seat Wednesday over a string of operations problems, and questioned him about an FBI probe.
The meeting was originally just a budget discussion, but several commissioners took the opportunity to grill Holden about recent controversies.
Commissioner Steve Mulroy wanted answers from Holden about the FBI investigation into the elections' problems. Commissioner Heidi Shafer, who was chairing the committee meeting, told Mulroy that Holden could not answer any questions because the commission attorney advised her they are not allowed to broach the subject.
Election commissioners confirm that its peers and Holden were asked to give statements to the FBI, but the nature of the investigation was not explained.
Holden also answered voter suppression questions about why he only has the one downtown early voting location open and will only extend early voting across the entire county for six days this time around.
He said opening all the satellite voting locations for several weeks was a waste in past elections.
Commissioner Terry Roland commended Holden for saving taxpayers money.
Holden also asked the commission for additional funding to add five positions to the election commission, after a state audit found the operation riddled with high-risk inadequacies, from poor data integrity to faulty financial controls.
Holden says the respective positions came as a result of a number of the aforementioned audit. The audit also found problems in several elections, including hundreds of voters sent to the wrong precincts and dozens of unprocessed voter registration applications.
Holden says that has been taken care of.
The commission spent $30,000 on an ad to put redistricted maps in the newspaper. One commissioner said it was hard to read.
"You would have been better off just setting a pile of money on fire," said commissioner Steve Basar.
The commission will vote on the election commission's $2 million budget in the coming weeks.