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Published: Saturday, 8/1/2009

GOP filings questioned

The Lucas County Board of Elections has received an official request for an investigation into whether the signature of county Republican Party Treasurer James Damas was forged on numerous financial documents the organization filed in 2008 and 2009 with the board.

The Ohio Secretary of State's office was notified of the request and will monitor the county board and its consideration of the issue, said Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

In response to the request, made by the Toledo Free Press, a free weekly publication, the elections board has added the issue to its Monday board meeting and will discuss what action to take.

Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook said no signatures were forged on any documents. "I welcome an investigation. There is absolutely no wrongdoing of any kind," he said.

The board can decide to do nothing about the request, refer the matter to the county prosecutor, or refer it to the Ohio Elections Commission.

"Once something is officially brought to [the board's] attention, it is the board's duty to look at the allegations," said Executive Director Linda Howe, who received the request for an investigation Thursday.

She added that she does not know what action, if any, the board will decide to take.

The decision ultimately will rest upon what section of the law the board decides could and should be investigated.

If the board decides a formal investigation is warranted, it will turn the matter over to the county prosecutor. "This office will stay in touch with this issue and monitor it," Mr. Ortega said.

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