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LCSO says it hasn’t been requested to investigate Fort Myers council candidate

Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday it has not been approached by the City of Fort Myers to investigate accusations of election fraud against Anthony Thomas, a candidate for Ward 2 on Fort Myers City Council.

As it stands, the plan would be to use Lee County taxpayer dollars and resources on what some critics call a political ploy.

We are digging into the allegations against Thomas. We went to city council Monday when council discussed the allegations, and Thomas spoke publicly on the record before council.

Council wants LCSO to investigate the election fraud accusations, but from what we found, there may not be any need for this investigation in the first place.

This story begins at a house on Lemon Street. It’s the only address Thomas lists on all of his public documents.

“I have lived at that address for decades,” Thomas told WINK News. “The record is very clear. I receive my mail there. I register to vote there. My vehicle registrations are there. My bank information is there. Everything that would establish where a person lives, I meet that qualification.”

But Thomas’ cousin, Melissa Blue, said Thomas doesn’t live at the home he has on the record. Through her attorney, Blue is claiming he lied on his qualifying documents to run for office.

Now, just weeks before the election, Blue has come forward to set the record straight.

“He’s been running for city council for quite a while. Why just now is she speaking out?” attorney Sawyer Smith said. “It takes courage to speak out against a family member when they are doing something like this.”

The allegations occupied two hours of the city council meeting Monday.

“I don’t think the city council should investigate,” City Attorney Grant Alley said.

Alley suggested hiring an independent hearing examiner to get to the bottom of it. But council went a different direction, voting instead to have the sheriff’s office take the lead.

“To be using the sheriff to be investigating these things is going to be costing time, money, etc. and maybe possibly litigation in the future,” said Ulysses Jean, a law professor at Ave Maria.

None of it sits right with Jean, who happens to be a Lee County taxpayer.

“Voters are smart enough to be able to make up their minds without these kind of maneuvers at the last minute,” Jean said. “It sounds like it was a political ploy.”

Attorney Pam Seay, an FGCU justice studies professor, says it all may be much ado about nothing because, from what we can tell, Thomas’ driver’s license has an address in the ward where he’s running, and he’s provided us other proof he still lives in the same ward.

“As long as he is still living within that geographic area there is no problem, it does not matter what the exact address is, as long as he lives in that specific area,” Seay said.

That brings us back to a house on Lemon Street, where Thomas’ cousin claims she lives, and he does not. But, when we went to the home Tuesday, a woman there said she owned the house and said it’s Melissa Blue who doesn’t live there. She also told us to leave the property before we could ask any other questions. Blue’s attorney claims she was kicked out of the house after this was all made public.

“I hope the voters can see through this, and they can see the good work that reporting like yours is doing,” Jean said. “This is very vital for our democracy.”

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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