Another Resignation Leaves Only the Chair of Both the Ohio Republican Party and Cuyahoga's Election Board After SoS Demands All Resign in State's Most Democratic County...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2007, 7:36pm PT  

One more of the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, Board of Elections directors, Republican Sally Florkiewicz, has stepped down this afternoon. Her resignation leaves just one member, the board's chairman, Bob Bennett, left to fight the demand by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that all board members resign in the wake of a years-long string of elections disasters, two criminal convictions related to the recount of the 2004 Presidential Election, and a new criminal investigation which was launched last week into newly-revealed administrative election improprieties and irregularities in the county.

The resignation of Florkiewicz from the board of Ohio's most Democratic county leaves only Bennett --- who is the chair of both the Election Board and the state's Republican party --- to fight the order by Brunner. A hearing will be held next Monday concerning the complaint filed along with the SoS's resignation demands, after which Brunner is free to fire Bennett directly, according to state law. As ever, the members of Ohio's supposedly "bi-partisan" boards of election have always served at the pleasure of the SoS, who, for years, was the highly partisan right-winger and co-chair of Ohio's Bush/Cheney 2004 committee, J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Brunner replaced Blackwell last November after the former SoS was thoroughly rejected by Ohio voters in his bid for Governor.

"Regrettably, the lone board member who has refused to resign will face removal," Brunner said in a statement posted to the SoS website late this afternoon. As to today's resignation, she added, "It's unfortunate that Ms. Florkiewicz was unable to resign until faced with a complaint to remove her from the board."

While the board's two Democratic members resigned last week not long after receiving Brunner's request, an official in Ohio closely following the matter has told The BRAD BLOG that Florkiewicz exited her post today with anything but grace.

"The Secretary of State has decided to use the Cuyahoga County Board of Election to advance a partisan agenda," Florkiewicz contended in her resignation letter, "and I am not willing to be used as a political statement."

But one of our sources wonders how the request to remove "2 D's and 2 R's demonstrates a partisan agenda"...

"Do you think she means that by removing a totally partisan and incompetent board in a heavily Democratic county and establishing fair elections that the net result constitutes a partisan benefit?" our source asked.

But Florkiewicz stuck to her script. "Chairman Bennett is defending the integrity of this board against politically motivated attacks," she said as she cut and ran, leaving Bennett as the last man standing, further leaving us to wonder how his recent characterization of the conviction of 2004 Presidential Election recount riggers --- one supposedly Democratic and the other a Republican --- as "a travesty of justice" would constitute either "integrity" or a "politically motivated attack."

Finally, in her exit strategy statement Florkiewicz thanked the "citizens of Cuyahoga County for allowing me to serve as a board member at the Cuyahoga Board of Elections."

One of our Buckeye sources found the remark "interesting" in light of the fact that Florkiewicz was nominated to her board post by the Cuyahoga County Republican Party and appointed to it by the Republican Blackwell.

"The citizens never had a say," in either her appointment or service to the county, the source notes. "Unless the defunct board was counting the votes," The BRAD BLOG was told, it seems rather unlikely that Florkiwicz would ever have been elected by Cuyahoga County's very Democratic base.

Brunner's statement today also calls for applicants to the newly vacated board. She notes that "applicants must be a qualified elector (voter) of Cuyahoga County."

Given that Bennett, as chair of the board, was nonetheless a resident of Columbus --- at least an hour's drive from Cuyahoga's Cleveland --- one wonders just why he would have been appointed to such a post, heading the state's most Democratic area, in the first place. We suppose only Blackwell and the state's Republican party would be able to answer that one. We'll leave you instead to speculate to your heart's content.

But as this is the electoral snake-pit that is Ohio, after all, whatever you're speculating...is most likely correct.