31 March 2014

The uproar of applause at attorney Cliff Arnebeck's serving the Hocking
County Board of Elections with a court order not to make any decision regarding the
firing of Hocking County BOE whistleblower Sherole Eaton, was in the very
least, memorable. It shall be treasured by the present Eaton, who blew the
whistle on a Triad GSI Technician who was witnessed by Eaton early last December,
illegally switching out hard drives on an election machine involved in last
year's election recount in Hocking County, Ohio. Sherole Eaton's decision to stand
up for election integrity was an easy decision for this slight woman who most
people would not immediately think of as "courageous." Her thought at the
moment was that what she was doing the right thing. Now, she is in a fight to
keep her job with the Hocking County Board of elections who voted to fire her in
May 2005.



Weeks before this incident, immediately following the election, Ms. Eaton was
commended by Hocking BOE Board member, Gerry Robinette (D), for her
outstanding performance in executing her duties as Asst. BOE Director.  After Lisa
Schwartze (R) left her duties as Hocking BOE Director for her maternity leave last
October, Eaton, nearly single-handedly, oversaw the 2004 election in Hocking
County, winning the diminuitive Eaton praise from her superiors.



Yesterday, in this most recent meeting of the Hocking County BOE, another
side of the board members who elected to fire Eaton, was revealed. The serious
matter of Hocking BOE Director, Lisa Schwartze's abusing her office of the
Hocking County Board of Elections by engaging in Republican fundraising from the
Hocking BOE offices, raised eyebrows from the 25 cloistered people who crowded
this meeting. Apparently, Schwartze planned and executed a Silent Chinese
Auction, a Republican Party fundraiser, from the offices of the Hocking County
Board of Elections. The auction was admitted as part of a meeting agenda item.
When questioned regarding Schwartze's activities regarding this, she became quite
defensive in response, claiming that she did not deserve to be "attacked."



Ohio Backbone Campaign, organizer Dave Hickman wrote in his recent report on
this meeting: "Upon hearing Schwartze's admission, concerned citizens called
for investigation.  Schwartze dismissed accusations as "personal attacks" but
was countered by Evan Davis who stated expectations for BOE officials to uphold
the law should not be defined as personal attacks." That was indeed a
dramatic moment as a bigger picture of the affairs of the Hocking County Board of
elections emerged. A decision to "discuss" this matter was carried over as an
agenda item for their next meeting of the board. Meanwhile, we wait with bated
breath in anticipation.



The other shining moment in the meeting that will stick with me, is when
everyone in the room shouted in rebuttal to Gerry Robinette's flimsy retort that
there was "no evidence" that any such thing as an illegal Republican fundraiser
"had taken place." Mocking laughter could then be heard erupting from the
crowd. The meeting record will reveal that Lisa had just admitted there WAS a
silent Chinese Auction having been carried out through the Hocking County BOE
offices. Robinette's retort was surprising considering Schwartze's statements
were already a matter of record. Gerry Robinette must not be a very good
listener. Lame attempts to obfuscate the truth, at this point, seemed "after the
fact", at best.



I agree though, with Hocking County Director Gerry Robinette's (D) statement
that "all politics should stop at the door" at the Board of Elections offices
in Hocking County.



Yes, not only is this recommended, it is the law. If I had had the chance to
speak at this meeting, I would have made sure to comment that not only was
partisan politics invited into the Hocking County BOE with a red carpet, it was
enabled in a grand way. The fact that it is ILLEGAL for BOE Directors to engage
in partisan political fundraising while on the job, must have eluded Hocking
County BOE Director Lisa Schwartze, who felt comfortable breaking the law in
her decision to initiate this type of activity out of a Board of Elections
office.



Other things were brought to my attention regarding things Eaton witnessed
while serving as Asst. Hocking BOE Director. Schwartze is alleged to have paid
the said auction's caterer with a check, right from the office of the Hocking
BOE, according to Eaton. Also, it should be noted that the Hocking BOE was
being used to "store items being auctioned off" for the fundraiser. According to
sources, it should be noted the Hocking County Republican Party has some
ninety-thousand dollars in its coffers presently. In addition, meeting minutes from
May 19, being public record, reveal the board violated the Health Insurance
Accountability Act in disclosing Eaton's private medical information within
these meeting minutes. Furthermore, off the $1928.03 In the invoice expense totals
listed in these May 19 minutes, reveal that $900 dollars was owed to Triad
GSI. My question is, what did The Hocking County Board of Elections actually get
for the money?



The phrase I would use to describe the modus operandi of the Hocking County
Board of Elections is "sloppy ineptitude." For example, also, never been
properly addressed by this self-ruling body of the Hocking County Board of
Elections, is the matter of Susan Hughes (D) "rehiring" herself without the board's
approval. This move by Mrs. Hughes might be construed as an attempt by Hughes to
maintain her health insurance as a legitimate employee of the Hocking County
BOE. If Hughes did not follow protocol in the act of rehiring herself without
board approval while "retired", should any decisions she has made since her
"rehiring" be considered legally binding? That is the sixty-four-thousand dollar
question.



I editorialize: An investigation is in order into the actions of the Hocking
County BOE, I would say. In my humble opinion, the Hocking County BOE's
misdirected effort to fire Sherole Eaton should backfire on the lot of them. Where
incompetence and such corruption is enabled and rewarded to those who stray
from the law, knowingly or not, how can we expect justice to be served for
Sherole Eaton in such an environment? It is time for Secretary of State Blackwell to
answer to the illegal actions of Lisa Schwartze, and the abuse of her office,
according to the rule of law.



My overall impression of the Hocking County Board of Elections is that they
look as thick as thieves, and exhibit a glaring incompetence in managing the
simplest of tasks such as following the rule of law. Even an effort as simple as
taking legible meeting notes, and following rules of order, seems beyond the
leadership capabilities of this board. It appears as if they are simply
accustomed to doing things in their own way, rule of law be damned.



Heaven help Ohio voters if this conduct is allowed in our Ohio Boards of
Elections. In all reasonable assessment, Sherole Eaton might seem the ONLY
employee on this board  worth retaining. She alone has acted with honesty and
integrity in assisting the electors of Hocking County. Sherole Eaton should be
reinstated in her former position with the Hocking County Board of Elections, while
the lot of the rest of them should be fired. In the least, that is my
considered opinion.