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Published: Tuesday, 4/28/2009

Stainbrook associate says Lucas county stalling in records suit

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Kelly Bensman, an associate of Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook, pressed her public records lawsuit against the Lucas County Board of Elections Monday with a new affidavit that she says proves collusion between the former GOP leadership and the elections board.

In her affidavit to the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals, Ms. Bensman, a member of the party's executive committee, identifies dozens of documents, including personnel records, she says should have been provided to her.

She accuses John Borell, the assistant county prosecutor who represents the elections board, of obstinately denying her records and says the board "intentionally supplied her with incomplete records on advice from their legal counsel," Mr. Borell.

Mr. Borell has moved to have the case dismissed, contending all the records requested have been supplied.

He said Ms. Bensman can't know what advice he gave the board because it was behind closed doors.

"I've probably given them 3,000 e-mails to date," Mr. Borell said Monday night, referring to e-mails that he said he had to review to make sure they didn't violate attorney-client privilege.

Yet, Ms. Bensman cites numerous examples in her affidavit of records that she says are mentioned in e-mails but were not provided to her. As one example, Ms. Bensman cites an e-mail showing that a board employee alerted former GOP executive director Joanne Wack about a problem with two of Ms. Wack's candidates for the central committee. Ms. Wack was employed under former county chairman Robert Reichert, Mr. Stainbrook's opponent last year. Both of those candidates' petitions should have been provided to her, but neither was, Ms. Bensman charged.

Ms. Bensman said she had to sue because Mr. Borell refused to provide records to her except through a lawyer. In an April, 2008, e-mail to Mr. Borell, Ms. Bensman accused him of a conflict of interest because his son, John Borell, Jr., was on the central committee.

"I feel that you should remove yourself from this matter," she wrote.

Ms. Bensman's suit for documents followed last year's contentious elections for the central committee, the body that elects the county chairman. Mr. Stainbrook, who won the party chairmanship after his supporters won a majority of seats on the party's central committee, contended Republicans on the board worked behind the scenes to help Mr. Reichert.

In an April filing in the case, Ms. Bensman linked the elections board to Tom and Bernadette Noe, who were both Lucas County Republican chairman before Tom Noe's convictions for theft and campaign finance violations.

She said Mr. Stainbook's opponents are "vestigial appendages" of the Noes, and Mr. Borell worked in concert with elections board members who owed their positions to the Noes.

She accused 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 vote for chairman."

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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