Elections hearing data spur questions

Board given evidence on DeGidio’s eligibility

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    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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    A member of the Lucas County Board of Elections, Anthony DeGidio conducts much of his personal business from Youngstown and sometimes stays in hotels in Wood County when on board of elections business, according to evidence submitted — but rejected — in a challenge to Mr. DeGidio's right to vote in Lucas County.


    The Lucas County elections board held a hearing Wednesday to respond to a voter challenge that Mr. DeGidio, a Republican, doesn't reside in Lucas County and is not validly registered to vote here — a challenge that, if upheld, would force Mr. DeGidio off the elections board.

    The challenge was shot down by the two Democratic members of the elections board, Ron Rothenbuhler and John Irish, who outvoted Jon Stainbrook, Mr. DeGidio’s fellow Republican on the four-person board and former political ally. Mr. DeGidio skipped the residency hearing, but was represented by a lawyer who criticized the evidence as an invasion of privacy.

    The dispute may not be over yet.

    John Marshall, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Lucas County commissioner last year, brought the challenge against Mr. DeGidio, saying he's disappointed in what he said was Mr. DeGidio’s false claim to live in Lucas County and because of some of the votes he’s taken during his tenure on the board. He said he believes Mr. DeGidio, whose law license is threatened with a one-year suspension by the Ohio Supreme Court over a disciplinary matter, just wants the job for the health care benefits.

    “He doesn’t live on Scarlet Oak; he’s never lived there,” Mr. Marshall said in reference to the Sylvania Township condo that Mr. DeGidio claims as his address.

    Evidence produced by Mr. Marshall, through subpoenas issued by the elections board, shows that Mr. DeGidio left his rented residence on Farrer Street in Maumee in early 2012 and has been giving his address as 1940 Highlawn Ave., Youngstown, which is the home of his parents.

    For example, the Highlawn address was used by Mr. DeGidio in an exchange with Youngstown State University in August, 2012, over his efforts to obtain a student visa for his Philippine girlfriend.

    And hotel receipts show that Mr. DeGidio on at least four occasions stayed at a Rossford hotel rather than at the residence on Scarlet Oak.

    Another document shows that Mr. DeGidio changed his address with Ohio Bank & Trust from Farrer Street in Maumee to 1940 Highlawn Ave., Youngstown, on Feb. 27, 2013.

    A document from the United States Postal Service indicates Mr. DeGidio changed his mailing address from Maumee to Youngstown in April, 2012.

    Mr. DeGidio is registered to vote at 2815 Scarlet Oak, but his name does not appear on the lease. The tenant, Tom Bundhschuh, submitted an affidavit that he has given Mr. DeGidio permission to stay at his residence whenever he wants and gave him a key. Mr. DeGidio has argued that much of his personal property, the doctors he sees, and his employment all remain in Lucas County and this is where he intends to return — the key language to verify voter registration, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.

    Mr. Stainbrook, a former ally of Mr. DeGidio, said he felt it was his duty to tell Mr. DeGidio to move back to Lucas County.

    “I told Mr. DeGidio that he needed to live in Lucas County if he wanted to serve on the board, so Mr. DeGidio could properly perform his duties. And Mr. DeGidio has been attacking me ever since I pointed it out,” Mr. Stainbrook said.

    “Mr. DeGidio swears he doesn’t have the money to move to Lucas County, yet he had the money to fly to the Philippines three times. Mr. DeGidio pledged $10,000 to the University of Youngstown’s English Language Institute to sponsor a 21-year old Filipino student and lists 1940 Highlawn, Youngstown, Ohio, as his address,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “Mr. DeGidio, 58, who is engaged to a 21-year-old Filipino girl, yet my morals are in question?”

    Mr. DeGidio, in an article in The Blade on Thursday, said Mr. Stainbrook was a person of “low moral character.”

    In responding Thursday, Mr. DeGidio said that his choice of who he dates has nothing to do with his board responsibilities, and pointed out that his residency has already been declared legal by the board.

    “I use the address on Highlawn for a lot of things. It doesn’t mean it’s my residence. I could live here for a year if I want to and that has nothing to do with my legal residency as it relates to a person’s right to vote,” Mr. DeGidio said.

    And he criticized the use of a subpoena that he said he never had a chance to review or attempt to quash. He said he stays in hotels sometimes when his cousin Vince accompanies him.

    “My understanding is most of it is completely irrelevant,” Mr. DeGidio said of the evidence amassed by Mr. Marshall.

    Mr. Stainbrook cited Internet address records show that during the last 11 months, Mr. DeGidio has logged into his Board of Elections email account 88 times, only six of those log-ins while in Lucas County and only one from the Scarlet Oak address — and that was made after Mr. Marshall filed his challenge. Mr. Stainbrook charged that Mr. DeGidio has lied about living in Michigan to obtain health insurance benefits as a Michigan resident, and pointed to a subpoenaed email.

    Mr. Marshall contended that the motion voted on in the Wednesday hearing was improperly phrased and should be challenged. But Mr. Rothenbuhler said the form of the motion was recommended by the board’s lawyer.

    “The ‘intent to return’ was all we had to establish, and obviously I believe he has the intent to return,” Mr. Rothenbuhler said Thursday.

    Mr. DeGidio claims Mr. Stainbrook is retaliating against him because he has made it clear he would vote to fire Meghan Gallagher, the Republican staff director of the board, over Mr. Stainbrook’s opposition. Mr. Stainbrook says Mr. DeGidio is retaliating against Ms. Gallagher because of the residency issue.

    A spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said the validity of a voter’s registration is up to the local board to decide.

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