A requestWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Renee Ward, who operates the political blog Glass City Jungle and serves as Toledo Free Press fact checker, keeps a close eye on Toledo media. She tries to fairly document when she sees inconsistencies or inaccuracies. It was during such a mission on a recent Blade story about the ongoing slap-and-tickle between the Lucas County Republican Party (LCRP) and the Lucas County Board of Elections, as she compared finance forms filed by the LCRP, that she noticed an obvious discrepancy in the signatures attributed to LCRP treasurer James Damas.
After comparing several such signatures to Damas’ voter registration card, it seemed clear there were possible forgeries that should be investigated.
During our investigation, SwampBubbles operator Chris Myers discovered the same discrepancies and posted them July 22. By July 20, we had sent the signatures to the first of several handwriting experts, asking if there were enough discrepancies to warrant further investigation. As you will read here, there were.
I know that pursuing this story leads to more conflict, directly with LCRP Chairman Jon Stainbrook, and indirectly with The Blade, which has a recent history of serving as Stainbrook’s biographer during his tenure as a public figure. Given the public differences between these factions and Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller, a lot of careful thought went into the decision to approach the Ohio Secretary of State and the Lucas County Board of Elections. I know there will be people ready to accuse us of plotting a vendetta against Stainbrook, but at this point, there are no specific allegations being made. Something looks wrong, and we are requesting that more qualified people determine if that is the case.
At the end of the day, if we are to do our job and keep an eye on a political system that we need to trust more than ever, we must ask these difficult questions and hope the people who oversee the process will take these signature discrepancies seriously.
If they deem there is no wrongdoing, or no reason to investigate, that will be the news and that will be the end of it. I will not allow the news department to hype this into a Seneca County Courthouse saga.
If there is wrongdoing, it needs to be exposed, and the people who may have violated public trust need to be held accountable. That is not the newspaper’s job; that is for the Secretary of State and Lucas County Board of Elections to determine.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.