More than a year after leaving office, former Duval County Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller has repaid his old office $47,000 spent on a failed court fight over term limits.
“I just decided that it was time to move on with my life,” Fuller said Tuesday. “It’s not an easy thing to do. But you can incur another so-many thousands of dollars in legal fees [on appeal] and you say ‘Man, I should have paid this.’ ”
Fuller was criticized in 2012 for spending his office’s money on lawyers to argue whether he was eligible to run for a fourth term after a state Supreme Court ruling that limited clerks of court and other constitutional officers to two terms. The city general counsel said at the time that was an election issue Fuller should handle personally.
Fuller said he wrote a check about two weeks ago, an action that earned him credit from some past critics.
“Learning that the fees have been reimbursed … kind of restored some of my faith in Mr. Fuller,” said City Councilman John Crescimbeni, who earlier called Fuller’s actions an insult to taxpayers. “It took him a while to come around, but it was the right decision.”
Jacksonville voters a generation ago approved term limits for many officeholders, but courts exempted a series of constitutional officers. A state Supreme Court order in 2012 reopened the question, however, and Fuller said Tuesday he thought he was raising legitimate questions when he went to court.
“My intention was all along to protect the Clerk’s Office, not to protect Jim Fuller,” he said.
Fuller’s successor as clerk, Ronnie Fussell, said city lawyers had discussed suing to get Fuller to pay.
“We’re glad he paid it back,” Fussell said. “The taxpayers got their money back, now let’s just move on from here.”
Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263