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Published: Tuesday, 4/14/2009

Elections board, lawyer accused of misconduct

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Stainbrook Stainbrook
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In a court filing Monday, a close ally of Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook accused the County Board of Elections and its lawyer of conspiracy and misconduct.

The filing was made in a public records dispute before the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals. Kelly Bensman, a member of the party's executive committee, first filed the lawsuit against the board in July, demanding release of records related to last year's contentious Republican Party Central Committee election.

Her memorandum was in opposition to a recent motion by the board's lawyer, assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Borell, to dismiss the case. Mr. Borell said Monday, "We already gave her twice the records she requested."

But Ms. Bensman says the board has yet to hand over everything it should as part of the discovery process. In this latest filing, she also accuses Mr. Borell of having intimidated associates of Mr. Stainbrook by threaten-ing prosecution, and of stymieing her public records requests to hide mismanagement at the board.

Later contacted by phone, Mr. Borell said the board has given Ms. Bensman "everything she wants" aside from an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 election board e-mails still being retrieved and forwarded.

In a separate filing, Ms. Bensman asked the court to order the board to hire a computer expert "to un-delete all e-mails and other documents from its computers from the date of Bensman's first record request through the present." Ms. Bensman's memorandum accuses Mr. Borell of having worked with Republicans opposed to Mr. Stainbrook's election to the chairmanship.

She describes these opponents of Mr. Stainbrook as "vestigial appendages" of Tom and Bernadette Noe, both former GOP party chairmen. Tom Noe is serving an 18-year prison sentence for stealing $13.7 million from a rare-coin venture with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Noe pleaded guilty in 2006 to using two dozen conduits in making $45,500 in illegal contributions to former President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. "It appears that Borell worked in concert with Board of Elections members who owed their positions either directly or indirectly to Tom and Bernadette Noe, and their cohorts," the filings read.

She accuses him of threatening criminal prosecutions for erroneous reasons against Mr. Stainbrook, herself, and two of Mr. Stainbrook's central committee recruits "to affect the outcome of the [party's] vote for chairman."

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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