St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners Chair Sarah Arnold Responds to Federal Lawsuit Filed by Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph Against the Board

On January 11, 2024, St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Chair Sarah Arnold issued a written response to the Federal Lawsuit filed by Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph against the BOCC.

“I fight to protect first amendment rights as they are fundamental to the foundation of the United States. However, I take just as seriously the integrity of civility and the laws that all elected officials, like myself, take an oath to follow. We are held to a higher standard to the rules and regulations that govern us, including State ethics.

To that point, I will continue to be the steward of the taxpayers’ dollars. Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph, as all political officials, is expected to lobby and campaign. However, what is explicitly forbidden is to do so with the use of her public office, during a public meeting and while using public resources, for the purpose of furthering her campaign agenda. The laws that Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph has likely broken have been long established to allow officials with differing opinions to come together and do the business of government. We have passed the realm of decorum and have entered a degree of breaking the law, as the independent legal analysis has affirmed of Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph’s actions.”

The outside legal analysis of Commissioner Krista Keating-Joseph’s actions stated, ‘We have concluded that Commissioner Joseph likely violated section 104.31. … It is therefore undeniable that Commissioner Joseph was using her official authority and influence to make the election-related comments on November 21, 2023… was clearly making a campaign speech… a reasonable factfinder is likely to conclude that her behavior was willful and remains so.’”

-Sarah Arnold, Chair, St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners