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Published: Monday, 10/5/2009

No more perjury

IT WOULD be best for everyone concerned if the Lucas County Board of Elections and its legal advisers gave up what look very much like obstructionist tactics and simply provided all the e-mails requested by Republican official Kelly Bensman in her action against the board.

And, while they're at it, they should remember that failing to tell the truth in a court proceeding - perjury, in short - can be a risky proposition.

Doesn't it seem odd that the person who handles the elections board's public-records requests would profess to not know the law on deleting e-mails from county computers? We think so, yet that is what Martin Limmer, the board's information services manager, appeared to be doing in a deposition filed last month in Ms. Bensman's appeals court action.

"I didn't realize that we were under obligations to keep every single e-mail we ever received or were sent," Mr. Limmer testified.

County Prosecutor Julia Bates isn't helping matters, either, by continuing to take an indifferent approach toward ensuring that John Borell, the assistant prosecutor who serves as the elections board's legal adviser, cooperates lawfully and fully with the public-records requests.

It's hardly a secret that Ms. Bensman is searching for e-mail evidence of improprieties by elections board members Lynn Olman and Patrick Kriner, who have resisted attempts to remove them by insurgent Jon Stainbrook, who took over the county Republican party in 2008.

So why would Ms. Bates simply excuse Mr. Borell's dilatory tactics by vouching for his ethics and seem to pretend not to know what the case is all about?

This isn't the first time that potential perjury has been a factor in this political struggle. Joanne Wack, then the county GOP executive director, was not prosecuted last year after she testified falsely in court that she hadn't been previously convicted of a felony. Ms. Wack was given an undeserved second chance to tell the truth.

As we said at the time, the countenancing of lies in court proceedings diminishes respect for the legal system and only encourages more and more lies.

While Democrats like Ms. Bates might prefer to not get involved in what they view as an intramural battle among Republican factions, the Sixth District Court of Appeals is taking the matter seriously. So should the county prosecutor.

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