Lucas County Republican Party (LCRP) members await the Ohio GOP Central Committee’s decision on whether Jon Stainbrook or David Kissinger will be recognized as the local party chairman.
Stainbrook, an ally of Republican Gov. John Kasich and Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges, won reelection as LCRP chair at a tumultuous June 11 meeting stacked with his hand-picked central committee members.
But Stainbrook’s critics on the committee — some of whom have posted video of the meeting where they claim they were systematically silenced and abused — walked out and held their own meeting the following week.
The split over LCRP leadership follows an ugly primary season culminating in an investigation and Stainbrook’s removal from the Lucas County Board of Elections by Secretary of State Jon Husted, a fellow Republican, early last month.
“Be advised, consistent with my letter of June 5, 2014, I will not let the Board of Elections slip backward into the dysfunction that has brought us here today,” Husted wrote in a June 24 letter rejecting two Stainbrook appointments to the board.
Stainbrook’s critics now assert that a quorum of LCRP Central Committee members elected David Kissinger as party chairman on June 18. Kissinger notified Husted the same day.
An undated letter from Borges “officially recognizing the Lucas County Republican Party that was organized at the Wednesday, June 11, 2014 meeting as the official County Party of Lucas County” does not appear to fulfill requirements set forth in state law.
Ohio Revised Code 3517.05 requires the Ohio GOP State Central Committee to hold a meeting to “determine and certify which committee shall be recognized as the rightful county central or executive committee” within 30 days of conflicting local parties’ officer lists being certified by the board of elections.
“It is clear that Mr. Borges erred in notifying you that the Stainbrook committee was the duly elected leadership of the LCRP,” Kissinger opined in a letter to Husted, adding that Borges “overreached his authority” by doing so.
Party leaders in Columbus typically try to avoid the appearance of intervention in local disputes. However, this spring Borges and the Ohio GOP sent mailers supporting Stainbrook and close ally Meghan Gallagher in their campaigns for the state party’s central committee.
The Ohio GOP promoted Stainbrook and Gallagher although Lisa McGowan, a Republican candidate for Lucas County Domestic Relations Court judge, told 1370 WSPD that LCRP made primary endorsements in a meeting where Stainbrook openly flouted Robert’s Rules of Order.
McGowan also asserted that the Lucas County Board of Elections refused to provide her with a list of LCRP’s executive committee members, illegally putting her at a disadvantage even before Stainbrook’s rigged endorsement meeting.
In March, Gallagher was replaced as chair of the Lucas County Board of Elections. Husted described a “culture of dysfunction that has plagued the Lucas County Board of Elections” in his post-primary investigation of the board.
John McAvoy, a leader of Toledo Tea Party and Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, noticed in April that nearly 300 LCRP Central Committee candidates’ petitions were circulated not by the candidates themselves, but by friends of Stainbrook.
McAvoy and other local Republican activists have been cataloging Stainbrook’s self-dealing for years.
In 2012, Stainbrook allies worked to put Sean Binkley on the ballot in Stainbrook’s Ohio GOP Central Committee race in order to siphon votes from incumbent Jonathan Binkley.
LCRP — chaired by Stainbrook — paid for mailers and signs promoting Stainbrook’s 2012 state central committee candidacy.
While climbing the ranks in the Lucas County Republican Party after the Tom Noe “Coingate” scandal less than a decade ago, Stainbrook was critical of tactics he has since embraced.
“If they don’t like you, they take you off the mailing list. They didn’t invite me to meetings, they took me off the mailing list,” Stainbrook told the Toledo Blade in 2008. “The same thing happened under Bernadette Noe.”
“Mr. Stainbrook, who has written free-lance entertainment stories for The Blade, worked on campaigns for Bob Dole, Bob Taft, Mike DeWine, George Voinovich, and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry,” the Blade reported in 2006.
Democrat control of Lucas County hasn’t changed much since then, and neither has the accuracy of the 2006 Blade story’s title: “GOP chairmanship is Stainbrook’s goal.”