New Charges Announced Against Chair of BoE Who Refused to Resign: He Allegedly Ordered $15k PR Contract Awarded to 'GOP Spokesperson'
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2007, 9:36pm PT  

Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner cleaned out the last dead-ender from the Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Board of Elections today. That would be the chairperson of the BoE and the head of Ohio's Republican Party, Bob Bennett (see previous coverage here.)

Bennett was the last of the four directors of the Board of Elections (supposedly two Democrats and two Republicans) to leave the board of the state's most Democratic-leaning county. The other three resigned after requested by Brunner in the wake of the convictions of two Cuyahoga Elections Officials for rigging the 2004 Presidential Election recount, a raft of disastrously run elections and a new criminal investigation into malfeasance at the county election board. The new investigation includes the early printing of absentee ballot results and an unexplained network cable left attached to the central tabulator overnight.

According to a statement posted to the SoS website, Brunner notified Bennett today about his suspension in writing, and has also announced yet another new charge against him:

"The Secretary of State's office will be working with the current and emerging leadership of the board to develop a plan improving, with the assistance of the Secretary of State's office, the board's operations and service to the citizens of Cuyahoga County. To further these efforts, I believe it to be in the best interests of all involved to suspend your participation as a member of the board," said Brunner. The notice of suspension pointed to the reasons addressed in the complaint filed against the Cuyahoga Board of Elections members by Brunner on March 23, 2007.

Brunner cites an additional reason for the suspension involving instructions to former Executive Director Michael Vu to award a contract to a consultant without Board approval.

Bennett instructed Vu to award a second contract to David Hopcraft in the amount of $14,750 on or about February 26, 2007, for public relations services to be paid for by public dollars by the board of elections. The Dayton Daily News on March 26, 2007 reported Mr. Hopcraft to be a "GOP spokesperson."

Accountability to continue in Ohio...