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State rejects Betras’ elections board bid, calling Democrat leader ‘not competent’

Published: Tue, October 4, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.


David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman.


Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted



Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann

By David Skolnick



In a scathing letter rejecting Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras as a county board of elections member, the secretary of state calls him “not competent.”

Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, cites Betras’ “wrongful conduct” as treasurer for ex-Attorney General Marc Dann’s transition account.

Husted wrote in the three-page letter to Betras: “Regrettably, I have reason to believe that, if appointed, you will not be a competent member” of the board of elections.

“I take issue with his statement that I’m not competent,” Betras said. “I was never accused of wrongdoing. It’s fiction and it’s partisanship. It impugns my character.”

Betras also takes issue with Husted’s decision to reject his nomination to the board of elections without bothering to contact him to ask about his time as treasurer of Dann’s transition account.

Both the Ohio Ethics Commission and the state Inspector General investigated Dann’s transition fund to raise money between the time Dann was elected attorney general in November 2006 and when he took office two months later.

Dann used the account “as he pleased,” the inspector general wrote, with Betras as its treasurer.

Betras said the inspector general told him he was never the target of an investigation. Betras added he did nothing wrong and volunteered to testify against Dann, his former law partner, if necessary.

After lengthy investigations, the only conviction related to the account was part of a misdemeanor ethics count against Dann in Franklin County Municipal Court on May 7, 2010, for improperly giving $5,000 from the account to Anthony Gutierrez.

Dann resigned as attorney general May 14, 2008, under pressure after being accused of running an unprofessional office filled with cronyism and inappropriate sexual behavior. Dann served in that job for less than 17 months.

The ethics commission report states Dann directed Leo Jennings III, his communications director and close friend, to have Betras write the $5,000 check as a loan to be repaid.

Betras said he had no idea there was anything wrong with the $5,000 check.

“I assumed at the time it was for work [Gutierrez] was doing,” Betras said. “I don’t know how [Husted] makes the connection with that check and being incompetent. It’s unbelievable. This was done to embarrass me.”

Matt McClellan, Husted’s spokesman, said: “From our standpoint, as treasurer of an organization charged with serving as the fiduciary agent, Betras signed his name and ignored that duty. That’s not the type of individual the secretary of state wants on the board of elections.”

Betras, an attorney, said he’s going to hire lawyers and decide his next step — possibly appealing Husted’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

In the letter, Husted wrote that the county Democratic Party’s executive committee may submit a recommendation for another appointment for the board position to him by next Monday.

If no nominee is selected by then, Husted can select a board member for the term that expires Feb. 29, 2012, McClellan said. The person appointed must be a Democrat.

If a lawsuit is filed, McClellan said he wasn’t sure about the time line for a recommendation.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said he was “extremely disappointed” by Husted’s decision. Redfern said the decision is “baseless, smacks of politics and is a disservice not only to Mr. Betras but to the voters of Mahoning County.”

Even before the county party’s executive committee recommended Betras on Sept. 17, there was talk that his time as treasurer of Dann’s transition account would sink his nomination. A reporter with The Vindicator specifically asked Husted about the situation when he was in Youngstown on Sept. 12. Husted declined to comment at the time.

Michael Morley, who served on the board for 15 years, resigned Sept. 19 to allow Betras to take his place.

The job pays about $15,000 annually with full health-care benefits.


1bmanresident(597 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Haha! Back to ambulance chasing there Betras!

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2Tony_A(13 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Finally! It takes a Republican to out this fraud since no one around here will do it. This self-centered egomaniac now gets a taste of how he treats people. And his plan to run for office just hit the Marc Dann roadblock.

How long before people figure out that if you are “not competent” to be on the Board of Elections you probably aren’t competent to be their lawyer???

There will be no run Mr. Betras, your firm is teetering and you have proven that you have no power as chairman. Walk away before you lose everything.

In my 60 years of voting I have only voted for a Republican one time. When the Chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party makes me want to vote Republican, it’s time for change, and Jon Husted has my vote for life.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Betras represents Valley Democrats at their worst!

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4ytownsteelman(628 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Betras has impugned his own character with his ridiculous feud with Tom Humphries. Good to see that he isn't going to be on the board of elections.

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5AtownAugie(697 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Mr Skolnick: Further investigation suggests Secretary Husted did this for humanitarian reasons -- he wanted to save Chairman Betras the embarrassment of appearing much in public until the chairman's lips completely heal. Apparently the secretary saw the under-reported medical newsflash filed while the chairman was in Columbus a few weeks ago to see the president: "An emergency surgical team at The Ohio State University Medical School performed what a university spokesperson said was the world's first 'lipbuttomy' -- the surgical separation of human lips fused to a human butt. The spokesperson said the procedure went more easily than expected due to the lips belonging to a lawyer and the butt being skinny. Hummus was applied to minimize scarring." (How dare some say Republicans such as Husted don't have a heart.)

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6newsmaker1(127 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

I can't imagine a person that has done more harm to the Valley than Dave Betras. He has displayed himself to be a power hungry lawyer and really should never be allowed past the counter at any Board of Election office.

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Dave gets no respect . . ..

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8Max(81 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

...He DESERVES no respect...

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9block50(128 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

This is really amazing coming from Husted. This bum has so many ethics problems of his own beginning with his sleazy campaign tactics (they were so bad he had to apologize later) to the fact he's broken the law by being several months late on his financial disclosure forms. What a hypocritical liar! Husted is the kind of rank politician that when he falls, he will fall hard. The last laugh will be on him. Betras will survive this, Husted will be just a speck in his rear view mirror.

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10MARGEOMATIC(128 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

He stepped off with that Tom Humphries mash up- I think people resent those who think they are the only ones entitled to an opinion- or p.o.v..

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11walter_sobchak(1909 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

That is one of the funniest assessments ever on this website as all true humor is based in facts. :^)

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12redvert(2064 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Betras has tried to live up to the standard in Ytown set by the infamous Don Hanni and so far is doing it...

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13redvert(2064 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Read the last line in the story, how many of you earn $15K a year with full health benefits? That is a good example of what is wrong with the public sector and both parties are to blame for it!

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14mrblue(983 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

It's about time that someone knocked Betras off of his high horse.

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15mammadoll(17 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

amen to all of this..i hope this takes this egotistical baffoon off his hi horse..i hope the pple n this valley will now see him for what he truly is..and that goes for his law practice

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16Westsider(223 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Yet another reason to support SB 5

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17ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

If the party is so confident in it's ability to have this overturned they should tell the secretary of state's office they can appoint any active democrat to the board and they'll remove him/her through the court process. Suggesting another option to Husted also suggests that you are "incompetent" and unconfident in your ability to have the decision overturned.

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18mrblue(983 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

This has to really hurt his massive ego. He is not as good as he thought he was----actually he was a legend in his own mind.

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19retiredfella(31 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Another republican game played by Columbus politics. Then inbreed politicians just think of themselves and their own gold lined pockets at the expense if the American people.

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20redvert(2064 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

NoBS(790 comments)posted 9 hours, 39 minutes ago

How many township trustees are there? And township clerks? THEY make a little more, in some cases - by law they're allowed to siphon off $24K or so per year, for a couple meetings a month, and they get full benefits.
I am not sure what your point is since all you did was agree with me that it is abuse.

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21harleydog(209 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Hope this will shut this arrogant big mouth up. But I doubt it, he likes to hear himself talk even when no one will listen.

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22redvert(2064 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

NoBS(790 comments)posted 9 hours, 47 minutes ago

[redvert's avatar] redvert(1491 comments)posted 55 minutes ago

Betras has tried to live up to the standard in Ytown set by the infamous Don Hanni and so far is doing it...

I disagree, redvert. Don Hanni, love him or hate him, would have had Husted for lunch. I kind of wish the ol' Bull Moose was still alive, and still in his prime, for today's shenanigans. The show would be REAL entertaining!
I have very fond memories of Don Hanni. Many years ago I sat in a witness chair being questioned by Hanni. He attempted to rattle me by asking a completely unexpected question. Now remember, the sign of a good attorney is that when they ask a question, they already know the answer. I will never forget the "deer in the headlights look" on his face when my answer turned the tables on him. When I attempted to add more info, he asked that my reply be stricken. The judge agreed as he and most everyone else in the courtroom laughed.

So yes, Hanni was entertaining.

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23BobK(14 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Amen on the talk radio show comment. He never listens and Verb has to explain most questions to him and he seems complelely irritated by most folks. Like they are not worthy of his time or attention and are stupid. Goske has a show and treats callers like they are human and worthwhile. Am I the only one that notices his law firm name constantly changes with associates and partners leaving in droves over the last few years. Business must be so slow that he is soliciting for dog cases. Still laughing over that commercial. Who says he isnt entertaining?

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24mammadoll(17 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

no ive noticed the changeover as im sure many more have..once a competant attorney finds out how he runs them into the ground they leave..simple matter..and im sure he would solicit for bedbugs...ya..its all about the money..enteraining he is..arent all baffoons

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25Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

"The ethics commission report states Dann directed Leo Jennings III, his communications director and close friend, to have Betras write the $5,000 check as a loan to be repaid."

That's what friends are for . . . ..

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26GTX66(343 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

This report of Betras's incompetency has kept me laughing since I heard it.

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