Recently The Star Beacon published a banner headline regarding a not guilty verdict for Board of Elections director, Charlie Frye, in a case about theft of political signs from last fall. It seems that the judge did not believe that the state had proved its case. Fair enough.
However, what does not seem fair is the ruling by secretary of state Frank LaRose to prevent the chair of the Ashtabula County Democratic Party from serving on the Board of Elections based on an unsubstantiated accusation aimed at Eli Kalil when he was local chair of the 2016 presidential election. I was there during the time a potential Republican operative (or wanna-be operative) accused Mr. Kalil of giving incorrect information for a change of address form for her boyfriend. I, and many others, worked daily at the headquarters and never, ever observed any improper registrations or forms. We were all trained, by Eli, about how to register properly.
So, this person was so upset she found it necessary to report this to the “authorities.” These authorities, including a county investigator, conducted two investigations and then turned this over to the BCI. The BCI declined to even investigate. This really just didn’t pass the smell test at the time to me. Still doesn’t to me.
Then, fast forward to 2020. Mr. Frye, republican member of the County Board of Elections, was credibly accused of removing political signs during the general election season. This is not a small matter. It has to do with abridging free speech. It’s against the law. The prosecutor in this case DID find enough evidence to proceed to trial. Not a few tax payer dollars were spent on this matter. Yet, Mr. Frye remains on the Board of Elections.
Since, Mr. LaRose found that Eli Kalil was “incompetent to serve because of the magnitude of the allegations” made against him, it seems that Mr. Frye should suffer the same fate for the allegations made against him. Neither party was convicted, although the allegations against Mr. Kalil never resulted in a charge, much less a trial.
Yes, the Ohio Supreme Court held that Mr. LaRose has the discretion to deny someone a place on local boards of elections. I would ask that he apply the same discretion in the instance of Mr. Frye. Or is this a state republican office holder not willing to treat another republican in the same manner?