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Published: Thursday, 4/3/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

State officials grill elections board over allegations

Stainbrook cites fund misuse, favoritism

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Stainbrook Stainbrook
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State officials sparred with and grilled Lucas County Board of Elections members Wednesday over allegations that include the board and administrators are misusing taxpayer dollars, failing to follow proper election procedures, and showing favoritism toward Democrats.

Jon Stainbrook, a Republican member of the Board of Elections, said he recently made the allegations in a complaint filed with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. In response, Mr. Husted sent former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and former Assistant Secretary of State Scott Borgemenke, along with other staff, to interview county board members, employees, and administrators on Wednesday and again today, his staff confirmed.

“I’m very glad to see our state officials here in Lucas County; otherwise the voters of Lucas County would have no chance for a fair and accurate election with the current staff and board,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “This shows Jon Husted is taking this seriously.”

Matt McClellan, press secretary for Mr. Husted, declined to confirm that state officials were in town or whether they are investigating any of Mr. Stainbrook’s more than two dozen allegations of wrong-doing by the board and new director, Gina Kaczala.

“The board just went through reorganization,” he said. “Our staff is there to address the current state of operations by speaking with the board, staff, and administration.”

State officials spent nearly two hours Wednesday meeting privately with Mr. Stainbrook, his attorney, Mark Davis, and former elections director Meghan Gallagher, who was fired March 4. This isn’t the first time they’ve come to town to deal with local board disputes.

The board scheduled a special meeting for 2 p.m. today on the 12th floor of One Government Center. According to the agenda, the board is scheduled to discuss procedures and operations and then go into executive session.

Among Mr. Stainbrook’s allegations are that several Republican employees have been fired, harassed, or demoted since Ms. Kaczala was hired, a charge Ms. Kaczala denies. Mr. Stainbrook also said that his requests for information from staff and other board members have repeatedly been ignored.

During the past two board meetings, Mr. Stainbrook has tried to add 24 additional items to the agenda, but the board has voted to end the meetings without addressing his questions.

“I have no faith in the current board and staff,” he said after his meeting with state officials.

Ron Rothenbuhler, board chairman, declined to comment after Mr. Stainbrook taunted him in the hallway as Mr. Rothenbuhler waited to meet with state officials.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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