Complaints filed in Miami County Sheriff race


By Matt Clevenger

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TROY — Miami County Sheriff candidate Paul Reece has filed complaints against Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak with state and federal elections officials, after the Miami County Board of Elections cancelled a hearing on the allegations citing a lack of authority to hear the complaints.

“The complaint is now in the hands of the Ohio Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Ethics Commission,” Reece said. “It has also been filed with the Office of Special Counsel, Federal Hatch Act Unit, in Washington, D.C.”

“The next step is for higher authorities to investigate the violations of state and federal laws,” he said.

“As I’ve stated previously, his allegations are without merit,” Duchak said. “The Miami County Board of Elections agreed, as evidenced by their dismissing his complaint.”

“My focus has and continues to be on administering the sheriff’s office and keeping Miami County safe,” he said.

Reece filed a protest with the Miami County Board of Elections on Dec. 26, regarding signature collections for the nominating petitions submitted by current Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak. In the protest, Reece said Duchak, Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell and other employees of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office violated elections regulations by collecting signatures for the petitions from county employees, during work hours.

“Over 70 county employees were coerced into signing political petitions they could not legally sign,” Reece said. “The County Sheriff and the County Prosecutor were collecting signatures for one another, and a member of the Board of Elections signed a petition, and later made the motion to quash the protest.”

The Board of Elections certified both candidates’ petitions on Dec. 28, Miami County Board of Elections Director Laura Bruns said, and board members met again on Jan. 5 to set a date for the protest.

“Because our County Prosecutor Anthony Kendell was named in the protest, the board did seek outside council,” Bruns said. “The assistant prosecutor in Preble County offered to represent our board in this matter.”

“He did some investigation into the process, and released to us an opinion about the protest itself and the board’s ability to hear the protest,” she said. “The board met on Jan. 16, and determined because of the opinion from the prosecutor in Preble County that none of the complaints that Mr. Reece alleged were anything that our board had authority to make a decision about, so the protest hearing was then canceled.”

“Clearly, the board mishandled the protest,” Reece said. “The board should have viewed the evidence and heard testimony.”

“This case is no longer merely a protest,” he said. “It is in the criminal complaint phase, and is in the hands of authorities authorized to take action on criminal matters.”

Duchak and Reece have run against each other before, in 2016 and 2020.

Reece, Steve Cooper and Chris Anderson ran against Duchak when he was first elected Miami County Sheriff in 2016, and Reece was also the only candidate to run against Duchak in 2020.

The Miami County Board of Elections has heard other protests during previous elections, Bruns said, including two different cases involving local candidates in recent years.

“A couple of years ago, one candidate for municipal judge protested the candidacy of another based on qualifications, and we had a protest hearing related to a zoning petition that was filed in our office,” she said. “This one was a little bit different.”

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