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Published: 3/18/2013

ELECTIONS PANEL

Stainbrook aims to oust GOP board member

DeGidio says action is bid to protect ally

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Stainbrook Stainbrook
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Jon Stainbrook, a Republican member of the Lucas County Board of Elections, has filed a complaint seeking to remove fellow Republican Tony DeGidio from the elections board over an ethics issue and the subject of Mr. DeGidio's residency.

DeGidio DeGidio
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Mr. Stainbrook says in the filing with the Ohio secretary of state that Mr. DeGidio is not a valid member of the board because he does not live in Lucas County and because he has an ethics charge pending against him by the Ohio Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Mr. DeGidio, in turn, accused Mr. Stainbrook of acting to protect board staff director Meghan Gallagher, a Republican and friend and ally of Mr. Stainbrook, from being fired. Mr. DeGidio has let it be known that he is prepared to vote in favor of removing Ms. Gallagher from her job, as was recommended in a task force report last month commissioned by the Ohio secretary of state.

He said Mr. Stainbrook and Ms. Gallagher have a romantic relationship, something Mr. Stainbrook has denied, and said that's a conflict of interest for Mr. Stainbrook.

"He can't vote because of his romantic and financial involvements. He gets money from her," Mr. DeGidio said. "They have had a boyfriend-girlfriend, romantic relationship, and that creates a conflict."

Mr. DeGidio claims as his residence for voting purposes 2815 Scarlet Oak Dr. in Sylvania Township.

However, his name is not on the lease at that address, according to the owner of the property, who added he did not even recognize Mr. DeGidio's name.

Mr. DeGidio, who formerly lived in Maumee, acknowledged that he does not own or lease the residence, but said he stays with a friend there while making "extended visits" to his parents' residence in Youngstown.

According to Mr. DeGidio, the legal definition of residence to be a registered voter is that he intends to live full time in Lucas County.

"I still have everything I need to keep myself in Toledo because that’s where I intend to return, and that’s the ultimate standard," Mr. DeGidio said.

In his complaint lodged with the secretary of state's office, Mr. Stainbrook points out that Mr. DeGidio is facing a two-year suspension of his law license for an ethics violation of failing to keep his own account separate from that of his clients and for not cooperating in the investigation.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended in October that Mr. DeGidio's license be lifted for two years, with one year stayed on condition he take continuing legal education on the proper use and maintenance of his trust account.

That ethics violation, which has not yet been determined by the Supreme Court, makes him ineligible to be on the election board, Mr. Stainbrook maintained.

Additionally, Mr. Stainbrook said Mr. DeGidio no longer qualifies to be a member of the board because "on his own admission, Mr. DeGidio lives in Youngstown, Ohio, which is located in Mahoning County."

Mr. Stainbrook said Mr. DeGidio has no home to return to in Lucas County.

And he denied that he has a conflict over his relationship with Ms. Gallagher, which he insisted was not boyfriend-girlfriend.

"It's demeaning to think that a woman in a leadership position gets her job for any reason other than her qualifications. It's pathetic Mr. DeGidio would make up this allegation with no basis in fact," Mr. Stainbrook said. Ms. Gallagher also denied that she and Mr. Stainbrook have, or ever have had, a romantic relationship.

Ms. Gallagher's status as staff director and that of Democratic Deputy Director Daniel DeAngelis have been up in the air since a task force appointed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted last month recommended that both of them be dismissed because of a history of board "dysfunction."

The four-member elections governing board made up of two Democrats and two Republicans declined to fire the two, choosing instead to respond to the report point by point, while also trying to complete the policy revisions demanded by the task force.

Board chairman Ron Rothenbuhler, a Democrat, announced last week that he wants to give Ms. Gallagher and Mr. DeAngelis a month to resolve their differences over the staff organization chart, or both of them would lose his support.

Mr. DeGidio was appointed to the elections board in July, 2011.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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