Public records experts say Diane Schaefer's hunt through township records during the past summer was legal, but some township employees fear files might have been compromised.
Schaefer's records research began when Trustee Bill Dwelle asked her to help township Fiscal Officer Pamela Hartung-Kellem find documentation showing the township had paid a former employee's state retirement contribution.
Dwelle said he asked Schaefer to help at Kellem's request, a claim Kellem denies.
"I didn't ask Mrs. Schaefer for help, that was Mr. Dwelle's idea. I felt it was a part of my role as clerk to handle the situation ... and I was handling it," Kellem said.
The retirement records pre-date Kellem's term and were filed during the period when Schaefer was township clerk. Kellem had been unsuccessful in the initial search and feared the records had been misplaced during one of the department's several moves.
Schaefer decided to help, she said, because the issue reflected on her work when she was township clerk, a time when she was harshly criticized for being incapable of performing the duties of the job.
On May 29 Schaefer and Kellem began searching files to find the documentation.
After several days, the records were found in a loft above the Highway Department by Kellem and other township staff.
But Schaefer continued to dig through various public records in the township, she said, because she saw problems with file contents she viewed while searching for the retirement records.
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