Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

After the Affair: Duo in Court Fight; Restraining Order Issued against Elections Commission Member

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

After the Affair: Duo in Court Fight; Restraining Order Issued against Elections Commission Member

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

A state elections official and a Springfield preservation activist are embroiled in an ugly court fight over claims that a soured romance sparked more than a year of harassment as payback.

A temporary restraining order was issued last month barring contact between Florida Elections Commission member Sean Hall and activist Nicole Lopez, who told a Jacksonville judge she and her family were targets of threatening texts, embarrassing mailings and fake tips to police.

"All because I ended a short-lived romantic relationship two summers ago," said Lopez, a member of the historic house-saving group Preservation SOS.

Hall's attorney said Tuesday that Hall, appointed to the elections commission by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012, hadn't done anything wrong.

"The allegations by Ms. Lopez are completely false and part of a continuing effort to extort money from Sean Hall and to harass and embarrass him and his family," the lawyer, Earl Johnson Jr., said by email. Hall, a manager with an electronics company who ran for a City Council seat in 2011, was traveling Tuesday and did not return messages left by phone and email.

Lopez said she talked frequently to Hall while he was a board member for Springfield Preservation and Revitalization, a group that spearheads community efforts in the historic neighborhood north of downtown. They were both married at the time.

"Doing the SOS stuff, I would talk and meet people like there was no tomorrow. ... He was always very friendly and very charming," said Lopez, who works for a California school district.

She said the two had a brief affair in the summer of 2012. She said Hall reacted badly when that ended, and that he had harassed Lopez and her family since then.

The restraining order application filed in February included a letter to Hall dated October 2012 from a lawyer asking Hall not to contact Nicole Lopez or her husband, Alex.

"I would consider this matter resolved if they receive no further contact from you or your wife," read the letter by attorney Chris Wickersham. …

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