Anderson Trustee Pappas Accused Of Violating Election Law
A complaint filed with the Hamilton County Board of Elections claims Anderson Township Trustee Andrew S. Pappas broke Ohio law while gathering petitions this summer for a repeal of a proposed sales tax increase.
But Pappas, a Republican, says in a letter to board members that it was simply a mistake on his part and offered an apology.
Monday, the board will meet to consider the matter and could end up referring it to the county prosecutor. Ohio law says election falsification is a fifth degree felony.
Seven Hamilton County voters – including five from Anderson Township - filed a complaint in July saying one page of a petition with ten signatures turned in by Pappas contained eight that were signed on July 16, when Pappas' location-tagged and time-stamped Facebook posts showed the trustee was at a lake in Michigan.
Under Ohio law, the circulator of a referendum petition must actually witness each signature on the date it was collected.
The complaint points out that Pappas couldn't have witnessed the signatures of the Hamilton County voters if he was in Michigan that day.
Friday, Pappas sent a letter to the four members of the board of elections explaining his side of the story.
Pappas said he kept a clipboard in his place of business to which he attached all the petitions with signatures he had personally witnessed. Pappas, who was on the organizing committee of the petition drive, said other circulators were bringing their petitions to his place of business, which were placed in a folder separate from the clipboard.
He said that while he was assembling those petitions, he found some that had not been signed by the person who circulated them and threw them away.
"For reasons I do not know, one petition that had been delivered to my place of business unsigned, Petition #001223, got mixed in with the petitions on the clipboard,'' Pappas said.
"When I signed the petitions on the clipboard…I believe they only contained signatures that I had personally witnessed,'' Pappas wrote. "In fact, I was wrong."
"I am sorry about what happened,'' Pappas wrote. "I apologize to the board for what happened here."
Democrat Tim Burke, chairman of the board of elections, said he wants Pappas to come to the board meeting Monday to be questioned about what happened. But Pappas told WVXU he is not sure yet if he will attend or not.
"I'm considering it, but I have two businesses to run,'' Pappas said. He said he has already explained what happened and apologized.