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Collier commissioner caught in election deception cites Bible verse as defense

An investigation by the Florida Elections Commission found that Collier County Commissioner Chris Hall violated the state’s election code during his campaign last year.

Hall’s campaign ads falsely implied he was the incumbent in the District 2 race rather than a challenger, according to an FEC consent order approved by the elections commission in May. The elections commission specifically found Hall failed to put the word “for” between his name and the office for which he was running in ads and social media sites, making it appear he already held the seat. 

Hall’s campaign ads made it appear he already held the commission seat. He didn’t.

The FEC ordered Hall, who neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing, to pay a fine of $200, ordered him to rectify any existing faulty advertisements, and required him to cover his own attorney’s fees and associated costs related to the case.

When reached for comment, Hall claimed the FEC found “no harm” in his actions and added, “Now my official response is this, Isaiah 54:17. Let’s see you print that.”

The Bible verse reads: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” 

It’s not the first time Hall has intertwined religion with public office; in fact the staunch Republican has said that’s the reason he got into politics. “God … has to be reinstated in our nation, our states, our counties, and cities,” he wrote in a candidate’s statement during the race.

There was no “for” between Hall’s name and the office for which he was running.

Hall stirred controversy during his campaign when he announced he would aim to strip the Collier County School Board of its powers if elected, saying it has been “infiltrated by weak leaders” who push a liberal agenda and that the district should not be subject to gay leaders. 

After winning office he joined a unanimous vote to reject $1.2 million in federal COVID-19 grant money that would have provided health education to migrants, and in June Hall received backlash after he questioned Domestic Animal Services’ no-kill policy and suggested excluding pit bulls and pit bull mixes from the county shelter. 

The election case against Hall stemmed from a complaint filed by Elizabeth Pircio, who served as campaign treasurer for Nancy Lewis, a Hall opponent in the Republican primary. Pircio alleged in her complaint that Hall’s campaign materials were “misleading and untrue.” 

Five candidates qualified in the race to replace outgoing Collier County Commissioner Andy Solis in District 2, which spans the north coast from Pine Ridge Road to Bonita Beach Road. After winning the primary, Hall defeated Democrat Bebe Kanter to win the seat.

About the author: Rachel Heimann Mercader began freelancing in 2023 and has previously written for The Institute for Public Service Reporting in Memphis, The Naples Daily News, and The Mercury News.