Monday, April 2, 2007

Secretary of State Brunner Puts Cuyahoga Board Under SoS Oversight

In another news release today, SoS Jennifer Brunner announced that she is placing the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections under Administrative Oversight for supportive, not punitive reasons.

Should you go to the Administrative Oversight document link below, you will see that she even has the good graces and professionalism to still address the letter of advisement to soon-to-be-past Chairperson Bennett, as well as Interim Director, Jane Platten, who is doing a yeaoman's job preparing for May's election.
Brunner is honoring Bennett, and his wishes to spin out of control until he can be removed, or finally does the right thing and resigns - a move that will be also for the good and needs of the voters of Cuyahoga County.

The release states:
Secretary Brunner Places Cuyahoga County Board on Oversight

For Immediate Release

COLUMBUS - Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on Monday placed the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections under state administrative oversight effective immediately through the end of 2008.

Secretary Brunner said the move, afforded under state law, would ensure stability at the board as new members and top staff take their positions to move the agency toward improved performance.

Secretary Brunner said the move is not punitive, but rather supportive to ensure elections laws are observed and the needs of the public are met.

As of today, the board has only one remaining board member, Robert T. Bennett, who refused to resign when Secretary Brunner made that request two weeks ago. The other three members resigned, and Secretary Brunner has filed a complaint to remove Bennett.

"During this time of transition, the voters of Cuyahoga County deserve stability in their elections system," the secretary said. "The secretary of state will be supporting the board and its employees with technical assistance and guidance for a smooth May 2007 primary election. This administrative oversight is intended to foster a partnership toward better public service."

Secretary Brunner sent a letter to interim board director Jane Platten on Monday explaining the move and indicating that the secretary of state would work with Platten in developing a specific plan of oversight.

Secretary Brunner's letter noted that:
• The Cuyahoga County elections board is without a permanent director or deputy director.
• Three of the four board members have resigned in response to Secretary Brunner's request of March 18. The board lacks a quorum and Bennett cannot act on his own on behalf of the board.
• Secretary Brunner is pursuing a complaint against Bennett alleging misfeasance and nonfeasance and seeking his removal from office.
• New leadership will be needed at the elections board to support improving operations at the agency.

The last two elections boards placed on state administrative oversight were in Auglaize and Lucas counties, according to state elections officials. Both were released in 2006, they said.

Institution of Administrative Oversight of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections


Media contacts:
Patrick Gallaway, Director of Communications, (614) 752-2450
Jeff Ortega, Assistant Director of Communications - Media, (614) 466-0473.

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