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Government and Politics

FitzGerald fires back at threats from auditor Yost
Cuyahoga Democrat FitzGerald calls for the State Auditor to recuse himself from audits after Yost threatens to make county officals pay for mailings

Kevin Niedermier
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says he isn't intimidated by State Auditor Dave Yost's threat to make him and other elected county officials pay for ballot mailings. Behind him (L-R) are county Law Director Majeed Makhlouf, and county council members Sunny Simon and Dale Miller. They are in front of Cleveland's federal bankruptcy court, where FitzGerald says he will be if Yost is successful in making him pay for mailings.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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In The Region:

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says he’s not backing down to Republican State Auditor Dave Yost’s threat to stick elected county officials with the bill if the county mails absentee ballot applications.

As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports, it’s the latest round in the fight over what Democratic gubernatorial candidate FitzGerald says is the county’s right, and state Republicans call a violation of Ohio election laws.

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Earlier this week, Cuyahoga’s eight Democratic council members voted yes to FitzGerald’s plan for using county money to mail ballot applications if the state doesn’t fund it. The vote goes against Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent directive giving the state the sole right to mail the ballots, which it is doing for all 88 counties in this fall’s election. But, the state is not obligated to fund mailings for every big election. So, FitzGerald wants counties to have that right if the state doesn’t step in.

On Wednesday, State Auditor Yost threatened to make county officials pay for county mailings…which FitzGerald estimates at possibly $300,000. He says Yost is politically partisan for saying next year’s audit of Cuyahoga County could include an order to pay back money spent on ballot mailings. FitzGerald believes this violates federal rules regulating government auditors.

“Not only are they trying to intimidate us by hitting us in the pocketbook, he’s also failed in his duty as a sworn elected official of the state of Ohio to provide impartial auditing services. He should be embarrassed and recuse himself from any investigation or audit that may occur.”                           

Yost's office says he will review FitzGerald’s call to recuse himself. Earlier this week, some Republican state lawmakers threatened to reduce Cuyahoga County’s state funding if it mailed ballot applications. But that was dropped after FitzGerald threatened a federal investigation. Republicans say prohibiting counties from mailing the ballots makes voting opportunities the same statewide because some counties could not afford to do it.                                                                                                                           

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