Republican Central Committee denies allegations in Fayette County Auditor lawsuit


RCC was sued in April for alleged Ohio open meeting violations

By Ashley Bunton - abunton@aimmediamidwest.com



Timeline of events

1996 — Brenda Mossbarger becomes employed at the Fayette County Auditor’s office as a clerk in the bookkeeping department.

2006 — Mike Smith elected as Fayette County Auditor, winning the general election with 1,598 votes over Democrat Dale Bishop.

2010 — Smith runs unopposed and is re-elected as county auditor for another four-year term.

2014 — Smith is re-elected as county auditor in unopposed general election.

March 10, 2017 — Smith retires from the office of the Fayette County Auditor.

April 13, 2017 — Fayette County Republican Central Committee holds open meeting to vote on appointing the next county auditor. Coole is nominated to the position, allegedly receiving more votes than Brenda Mossbarger.

April 19, 2017 — Jomi Ward files a handwritten complaint in the civil division of the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas alleging the April 13 meeting violated Ohio law.

April 20, 2017 — Ward amends the complaint, asking for a stay of Aaron Coole asFayette County Auditor.

May 10, 2017 — An entry filed states the complaint faced dismissal for not meeting certain legal requirements.

May 30, 2017 — Complaint amended a second time by Ward, asking for Aaron Coole to vacate Fayette County Auditor position.

June 7, 2017 — Amended complaint served by certified mail to members of the Republican Central Committee.

June 16 — Fayette County Auditor Aaron Coole responds to lawsuit

June 29, 2017 — The Fayette County Republican Central Committee files an answer to the complaint and denies the allegations set forth in the lawsuit.

The Fayette County Republican Central Committee denies allegations in a lawsuit that asks for Aaron Coole to vacate the Fayette County Auditor seat, according to an answer filed in the Fayette County Clerk of Courts office.

An attorney representing the Republican Central Committee and its 25 members submitted the formal answer to the complaint June 29. The attorney representing the committee, William T. Junk with Junk and Junk law firm in Washington Court House, filed the defendants’ response on behalf of the committee, Jim Chrisman, Lauran Perrill, Susan Meriweather, John Link, Ronald Palmer, Evelyn Pentzer, Marlene Rankin, Andrew Bivens, Oscar Mckinney, Sidney Terhune, Ted Hawk, Dan Roberts, Frank Breedlove, Wayne Arnold, Gordon Conn, Karen Abendshein, Tabitha Melvin, Susan Jordan, Carol Creamer, Charles Anderson, Robin Beekman, Diane O’Cull, E. Renee Lloyd, Martha Cooper, and Ruth Ann Ruth.

In its filed answer, the committee denies the following allegations contained in the complaint brought on by Ward, Smith and Templin: the allegation that accuses the committee of entering into executive session April 13 but not defining the purpose of such meeting; alleges no roll call vote was taken prior to entering into executive session; alleges that while still in executive session the committee voted on who to appoint to the vacant county auditor seat; alleges the vote was conducted in executive session by a secret ballot; alleges the committee then re-opened the meeting and declared Coole as the winner; alleges the committee refused to release to the public either (a) the vote totals received by Coole and Mossbarger or (b) information regarding which candidate each of the committee members voted for; alleges the committee did not keep any minutes of the meeting.

Coole was announced to be the winner of the Fayette County Auditor election during the Fayette County Republican Central Committee meeting April 13.

The 25 defendants and the committee are being named in a complaint that was originally filed by Fayette County resident Jomi Ward in April. Ward hand-wrote the original complaint and asked that the committee’s meeting to elect a new auditor be reviewed and checked for Ohio open meeting law violations. Ward amended the complaint the following day to ask for a stay of Coole’s appointment as auditor.

Coole, who is not a member of the Republican Central Committee, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. According to court records, Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade is the legal attorney for Auditor Coole.

Fayette County Common Pleas Judge Steven Beathard filed an entry June 10 — the complaint would be thrown out of court for not following Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure. The original complaint was amended again and the amended complaint May 30 was filed on behalf of Ward, former Fayette County Auditor Mike Smith, and Cathy Templin, the county recorder, who is suing on behalf of her individual, and not official capacity, according to court documents. Their attorney is Patrick M. Quinn of Brunner Quinn law firm in Columbus.

In contradiction to the original complaint, the May 30 amended complaint asks that the Fayette County Auditor seat be deemed vacant and for the committee to now “conduct a process in full compliance with the Open Meetings Act to select someone (who may or may not be defendant Coole) to fill that vacancy.”

http://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2017/07/web1_FCCourtHouse.jpg
RCC was sued in April for alleged Ohio open meeting violations

By Ashley Bunton

abunton@aimmediamidwest.com

Timeline of events

1996 — Brenda Mossbarger becomes employed at the Fayette County Auditor’s office as a clerk in the bookkeeping department.

2006 — Mike Smith elected as Fayette County Auditor, winning the general election with 1,598 votes over Democrat Dale Bishop.

2010 — Smith runs unopposed and is re-elected as county auditor for another four-year term.

2014 — Smith is re-elected as county auditor in unopposed general election.

March 10, 2017 — Smith retires from the office of the Fayette County Auditor.

April 13, 2017 — Fayette County Republican Central Committee holds open meeting to vote on appointing the next county auditor. Coole is nominated to the position, allegedly receiving more votes than Brenda Mossbarger.

April 19, 2017 — Jomi Ward files a handwritten complaint in the civil division of the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas alleging the April 13 meeting violated Ohio law.

April 20, 2017 — Ward amends the complaint, asking for a stay of Aaron Coole asFayette County Auditor.

May 10, 2017 — An entry filed states the complaint faced dismissal for not meeting certain legal requirements.

May 30, 2017 — Complaint amended a second time by Ward, asking for Aaron Coole to vacate Fayette County Auditor position.

June 7, 2017 — Amended complaint served by certified mail to members of the Republican Central Committee.

June 16 — Fayette County Auditor Aaron Coole responds to lawsuit

June 29, 2017 — The Fayette County Republican Central Committee files an answer to the complaint and denies the allegations set forth in the lawsuit.

Reach Ashley by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton

Reach Ashley by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton