The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
The Lucas County Board of Elections voted 2-1 to reject a challenge to remove Tony DeGidio, a Republican, from the board during a Wednesday hearing that Mr. DeGidio’s attorney characterized as a “witch hunt.”
At issue was whether Mr. DeGidio lives in Youngstown, rather than the Sylvania address he claims.
If the board had ruled he didn’t live in Lucas County, making him ineligible to vote in the county, Mr. DeGidio wouldn’t have been able to legally serve on the board.
Democratic members John Irish and Ron Rothenbuhler voted to support Mr. DeGidio’s residency claim. Board member Jon Stainbrook, also Lucas County Republican Party chairman, voted against it.
“I disagree with the challenge,” board Chairman Rothenbuhler said, before making a motion to reject the claim Mr. DeGidio is not a county resident. “Although vague, he has stated his intent to remain in Lucas County.”
During the hearing, Sylvania Township resident John Marshall, who made the official residency challenge, presented hundreds of pages of documents that he said proved Mr. DeGidio does not live in the county.
That evidence included Internet connection addresses indicating various physical locations where Mr. DeGidio logged on to the Web, health insurance records, copies of leases where the board member previously has lived or claimed to live, and copies of checks Mr. DeGidio had written. Mr. Marshall claimed they proved the board member did not seem to have a permanent address in Lucas County.
Attorney James Perlman, who represented Mr. DeGidio at the hearing, tried to cross-examine Mr. Marshall and the legitimacy of the documents several times, but Mr. Marshall refused to answer any of the attorney’s questions. Mr. DeGidio did not attend the hearing. “I’m not going to talk to you anymore,” Mr. Marshall said when asked how he obtained such things as Mr. DeGidio’s insurance records.
When Mr. Rothenbuhler explained that cross-examination is part of the hearing process, Mr. Marshall told him, “I’m not going to answer his questions.”
Mr. Marshall did acknowledge to Mr. Perlman that he launched an investigation of Mr. DeGidio after speaking with Mr. Stainbrook and Meghan Gallagher, the Board of Elections’ director.
“He doesn’t know, or had any contact with Mr. DeGidio,” Mr. Perlman told the board. “But he went on a witch hunt by, apparently, with the help of a board member and administrator.”
Mr. Stainbrook acknowledged at the meeting that he has discussed the issue with Mr. Marshall, who he characterized as a “friend.”
Mr. Marshall is a former political ally of Mr. Stainbrook.
Mr. DeGidio, a lawyer, used to be an attorney for Mr. Stainbrook, but the two are at odds over Mr. DeGidio’s status as an elections board member.
Mr. Perlman said after the hearing that Mr. Marshall’s possession of Mr. DeGidio’s records clearly violates privacy laws.
Mr. Stainbrook expressed frustration with the board’s decision. He said Mr. DeGidio’s absence from the hearing undermined the proceedings because Mr. Marshall couldn’t question him.
Contacted after the hearing, Mr. DeGidio said his quarrel with Mr. Stainbrook stems from refusing to support him during board votes. “These bogus allegations that Stainbrook and Gallagher are making is their way of using the Board of Eections to harass anyone who disagrees with them,” Mr. DeGidio said.
Mr. DeGidio said he does not plan to step down and isn’t concerned about his relationship with Mr. Stainbrook. He also said he planned to take legal action for the alleged violation of privacy laws.
“I don’t see it as a problem at all,” Mr. DeGidio said. “Stainbrook has a vendetta — you’re never going to change people like that. We’re dealing with someone with low moral character.”
Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.