Member accuses Board of Elections of politicizing Struthers Judge race

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Strong words were thrown Monday night among members of the Mahoning County Board of Elections. Member and Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras accused Board President and Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe of politicizing the Struthers Municipal Court Judge race on the eve of the election.

Recently, two of Democratic candidate Dominic Leone’s ex-girlfriends filed affidavits with the Board of Elections, claiming Leone took improper campaign contributions. The affidavits were given to Mahoning County’s prosecutor, who decided there was inadequate evidence to pursue charges.

At Monday night’s meeting, Munroe asked that the sheriff investigate the Leone allegations.

“I do feel that the matter should be more thoroughly reviewed,” Munroe said.

Betras then criticized the DeGenova campaign and Munroe.

“For you, chairman, to be picking up the banter of that sleazy, disgusting, vile campaign and to bring it before this board and politicize it is wrong,” Betras said.

Watch: Democratic Party chairman accuses candidate of ‘sleazy’ campaign

He called the affidavits lies, saying he checked them out and they were not true.

“If I find out that the Republican Party or you, Mr. Chairman, had any doing in the filing of those affidavits, I’m going to be the one asking for your resignation,” Betras said.

Munroe said he was concerned it would look political but he was also concerned about Mahoning County’s political image.

“We have a history in this county of some things that are not so admirable.”

He and board member Tracey Winbush exchanged words when Winbush questioned how Betras investigated the Leone accusations. She said he shouldn’t have just looked into the allegations himself but should have also brought it to the Board of Elections.

On the issue of having the sheriff investigate the allegations against Leone, the two Republicans voted yes and the two Democrats voted no. It’ll now be up to Secretary of State Jon Husted on whether the investigation will continue.

DeGenova said he believed the process would take its course.

Leone released the following statement:

I believe the actions of the persons pushing the investigation are purely political in nature. I believe I ran a clean campaign and made a strong case for my election as the next Struthers Municipal Court Judge.”