Appeal brews trouble for man

Lost election appeal over Rhonda Damschroder’s campaign costs Brewer $556
Tom Jackson
May 2, 2014
Sandusky County gadfly John Brewer has lost another appeal to a government body — and this time it’s going to cost him $556.

The Ohio Elections Commission ruled 6-0 his latest complaint was unjustified and voted 4-2 to levy $556 in attorney’s fees and costs.

Brewer is unhappy about Rhonda Damschroder’s “placeholder” candidacy for state representative in Sandusky and Seneca counties.

Rhonda Damschroder is running as a write-in candidate in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the Ohio House District 88 race.

She has said if she wins, she’ll quit the race so Republican officials can appoint her husband, state Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, as the candidate, allowing him to run for re-election. The strategy was adopted after Rex Damschroder made a mistake in his nominating petition and had to withdraw.

Brewer contends her candidacy is fraudulent, but Sandusky County’s board of elections disagreed, voting 4-0 to dismiss Brewer’s complaint.

Brewer tried again with a complaint to the Ohio Elections Commission, but a three-member panel rejected his complaints.

So he appealed to the full seven-member commission. One member, Democrat Terrance Conroy, was absent, but the other members voted 6-0 to reject his complaint, said Philip Richter, the panel’s executive director.

After an effort to impose $1,265 failed on a 3-3 vote, the commission members voted 4-2 to impose the $556 — $500 in attorney’s fees, and $56 in costs. The panel’s two Democrats at the meeting, Degee Wilhelm and Jayme Smoot, both voted no.

Brewer wrote in an email that the commission was compelled by law to impose a sanction after turning him down. He wrote he had to seek the Wednesday meeting to get his case heard before Tuesday’s primary.

“I wanted this out of the way before the election” he wrote.

Donald Brey, Rhonda Damschroder’s attorney, said Thursday the $556 was reasonable as a response to Brewer’s complaint, which Brey characterized as frivolous.

“It was a fair and appropriate decision,” Brey said. “The Ohio Elections Commission is not a court of appeals for the decisions of the Sandusky County board of elections”

Brey said Brewer complained about the election board’s actions in spite of the fact Brewer wasn’t there for most of the meeting and has no “personal knowledge” of what happened, as required by the commission’s rules.

“He wasn’t there because he walked out of the board of elections,” Brey said. “He has no personal knowledge of the words that came out of my mouth when he was gone”

Comments

coasterfan

Brewer is a good man; I know him well. His challenge had merit: it's not ethical that our political system allows a "placeholder" person to stand in temporarily for a candidate who doesn't file his paperwork correctly before the deadline. Why have a deadline at all, if anyone can just get a de facto extension of the deadline by having a "placeholder" run temporarily in their stead?

Unfortunately, the ruling body on whether the board of elections handled things correctly was....the board of elections. We are in a strong Republican district, so it's not much of a surprise that the Republican Fox protected Mr. Damschroder's Republican HenHouse, is it?

I'm willing to consider the fact that, if there were Democrats on the board, perhaps there are other extenuating reasons why his appeal was denied. But since any information along those lines isn't mentioned in the article, I see nothing that would merit the loss of his appeal, other than the good-ole-boy network trying to protect their eggs. And in this case, something is rotten with the entire egg.

ContraryAnn

Brewer's FB post indicates the OEC initially considered sanctions and calling Brewer's complaint 'frivolous'. Brey requested nearly $2,200 in fees. The motion for $1,200+ was an effort to attach 'frivolous' charges - and failed 3-3 with a Republican joining in.
According to Brewer, Brey's hourly fee is $390/hour.
Two members of the OEC wanted no fee but the law mandates "reasonable attorney fees".
The OEC did not dispute the 'alleged' comments by Mr. Brey, only that an attorney cannot be held responsible.

ContraryAnn

"She (Rhonda Damschroder) has said if she wins, she’ll quit the race so Republican officials can appoint her husband, state Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, as the candidate, allowing him to run for re-election. The strategy was adopted after Rex Damschroder made a mistake in his nominating petition and had to withdraw."

But if you remember the stories on the BOE hearing, BOE member Sandra Wise directly asked Brey "has Mrs. Damschroder ever indicated she has no intention to run in November? Mr. Bray said no".

If I recall, that was the entire reason for "The Gadfly's" original protest to the BOE.

MickeyKuzak

Calling Brewer a "gadfly" is an insult to gadflies.

grumpy

This is why we need loser pays for law suits. It will keep the frivolous law suits from being charged. He lost this case twice before... by 4-0 in one, and 3-0 in the other. he should pay for others time wasted in a frivolous case as this was. He got 0 votes in 3 votes from 3 different boards, on the regulations on this case. It was frivolous. Each of those boards od elections have both dems and rep on them.

ContraryAnn

As I read the story, only Brey called the suit 'frivolous'. In fact the Ohio Elections Commission on Wednesday had three opportunities to put that label on the case - but didn't.
The reason you cite of 'loser pays' is exactly why the OEC refused to assess 'punitive' costs because a majority of its members don't want to make it more difficult or daunting to seek right action.
This specific law is subject of a case heard before the US Supreme Court one day before Brewer's hearing April 24.
SR is only media that reported this - even with SR slant and namecalling - because it's not Damschroder friendly.