The Lucas County Board of Elections voted 3-0 today to launch an investigation against one of its members over an accusation that he encouraged one employee to slow down the elections work.
The target of the investigation, Republican board member Jon Stainbrook, denied sending such a text to former seasonal board employee Jacob Sanford.
Following the meeting, Mr. Stainbrook voluntarily logged into his Verizon cell phone account while at The Blade to show his cell phone use.
The phone record showed no messages between Mr. Stainbrook and Mr. Sanford during the period claimed by an accuser.
The accusation was one of many anecdotes of wrongdoing and dysfunction against various board members and employees that emerged during two lengthy days of hearings conducted last month by a “transparency committee” appointed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Board member John Irish made the motion to “begin the process of investigation” of the allegation. Mr. Stainbrook abstained from the vote at the recommendation of Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor Kevin Pituch.
The accusation came from seasonal board warehouse employee Eric LaPlante who on April 23 claimed that he saw a text from Mr. Stainbrook to Mr. Sanford telling him, something to the effect of, “work slowly as possible and do not report any errors.”
In his note to the elections board disclosing the allegation, Mr. LaPlante said he saw the text "a day or two after" Mr. Stainbrook’s ally, Meghan Gallagher, was fired as director of the board, which occurred on March 4.
Mr. Irish said he was "taken aback" by the accusation and said that the board has an obligation to pursue the allegation to find out if it is true.
Republican board member Tony DeGidio made a motion to call on Mr. Husted to remove Mr. Stainbrook from the board temporarily, but he did not receive a second to his motion.
Mr. Stainbrook’s cellphone Verizon account shows a text between him and Mr. Sanford on Feb. 24 and two more on March 11, but none in between. Mr. Stainbrook said he has no other cell phones.
Mr. Irish said the board has subpoena power and will attempt to subpoena phone records and witnesses to determine whether there is any truth to Mr. LaPlante's allegation.
Mr. Stainbrook said the rest of the board, who typically vote as a group against him on any matters of controversy, is out to discredit him to defeat his candidacy for the Republican State Central Committee on Tuesday.
Mr. Stainbrook is embroiled in a fierce fight with former Toledo tavern owner Bill Delaney for the post of male committee member from the 11th Senate District. The winner of the election, held only among Republican voters during next week's election, will hold the seat for two years. State committeemen elect the state chairman and other posts and control the party’s bylaws.