The state election commission members gathered in a “show cause” meeting Monday to listen to a complaint about Calabria from former state Sen. Mae Beavers. Beavers, who challenged incumbent Randall Hutto for Wilson County mayor, complained Calabria took to social media and expressed her opinions about Beavers’ current Wilson County mayoral and prior gubernatorial campaigns, according to Kent Younce, a Tennessee election commissioner.
“We heard statements from [Beavers] and from [Calabria],” Younce said. “Then, after hearing all of the comments, we deliberated and decided to remove [Calabria].”
Beavers said she made the complaint because she believed Calabria “became too involved in the politics.”
Beavers said she “barely knows” Calabria, and she was “defaming” her. Beavers said she met Calabria during President Donald Trump’s campaign, and Calabria started to “accuse me of things on Facebook. She was taking gossip as the truth and defaming me.”
A statement released by Calabria on Thursday repeated some of the things she reportedly said about Beavers on Facebook.
Calabria said she did expect the complaint against her, “especially since I was suggested for appointment by [state Rep.] Susan Lynn, who has been relentlessly attacked by Mae Beavers for 16 years.”
Calabria said as election commissioner, it was her job “to inspect monthly voter registrations, vote on improvements to the election commission, verify voting machines are zeroed out, verify seal numbers, seal and lock machines. Everything is done with Democrat and Republican commissioners present at all times. There is no opportunity to make any changes or alterations to any votes or ballots.”
The vote to remove Calabria was not unanimous, Younce said. He said six of the seven members were present, and one of the state commissioners, a Democrat, decided not to vote on a Republican issue.
“[Voting out a county election commissioner] is pretty rare,” Younce said. “That’s not something we deal with at every commission meeting,”
He said election commissioners have to take an oath that says they are “going to act in an impartial discharge of their duties. The commissioners felt like [Calabria] crossed the line.”
The state election commission appoints county election commissioners after members of the local legislative delegation recommend them.
There are no state regulations for actions by county election commissioners Younce said.
“We have asked the election commission coordinator of elections to work on a code of conduct for our election commissioners,” he said. “With social media becoming so prevalent in relationships in political areas, we feel as if there should be codes of conduct for commissioners in discharging their duties.”
Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, said she tried to find a replacement for Calabria, but because the person must start immediately, it was difficult to find someone on short notice.
She said she has considered a retiring county commissioner, but the person cannot start until they have left office.
Because of that, Lynn said she would likely let state Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, make the current appointment, and she would make the next one.