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Published: Tuesday, 1/29/2008

Ohio will review complaints about elections board

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The Ohio Secretary of State's Office will look into complaints filed by a Lucas County Republican activist over allegations of favoritism in the Lucas County Board of Elections.

How in-depth the investigation will be has yet to be determined, said Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the office hadn't received the complaints.

"This office will review the complaint. This office will check the [board of elections] to see what they are aware of since they are the immediate governing authority," Mr. Ortega said. "I don't know if I would term it an investigation."

GOP activist Jon Stainbrook is mounting an effort to win control of the party's central committee in the

March 4 primary.

He said he asked for intervention by the secretary of state because he believes the county board of elections is biased toward the current leadership of the county Republican Party, which is trying to retain its control of the central committee.

Mr. Stainbrook and the party leadership both submitted slates of candidates for the committee.

"I resent the fact that the board of elections is being used as a weapon against the new Republican recruits, and that's not fair," he said.

In the first of two letters sent to Ms. Brunner, Stainbrook associate Kelly Bensman said that she observed a GOP party official working with candidate petitions after the 4 p.m. deadline.

The second letter, written by another Stainbrook associate, Meghan Gallagher, alleges a series of grievances about her treatment by the board of elections. It also complains that eight candidate petitions submitted by the party should have been thrown out for errors.

Jill Kelly, executive director of the board of elections, said she would cooperate with an investigation, but said she did not believe the complaints had merit.

Also yesterday, the four-member board of elections issued a statement saying it would cooperate with the state and also conduct its own investigation. It said, "We have hard-working and dedicated employees at the Lucas County Board of Elections under the leadership of Director Jill B. Kelly and Deputy Director Daniel Pilrose, committed to fair, honest, and transparent elections."


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