We have long been champions of the public’s right to know. Toward that end, we’ve also long been advocates of strict enforcement of Ohio’s public-records and open-meetings statutes, collectively referred to as Sunshine Laws.
That’s why we commend Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for his recommendation to remove two Putnam County Democrats from that county’s Board of Elections. He’s called for the resignations of Martin Kuhlman and Ann Dillinger after a county common pleas court judge earlier this summer ruled the board committed 17 violations of Ohio’s Sunshine Laws between 2008 and 2009. Two Republican members of the board have since left office.
According to court documents, members conducted meetings without proper notice, met in closed secret session improperly and acted on matters not included in public notices.
As the judge in the case stressed, the violations “were egregious, repeated and deprived the public of information that they were required to provide.”
Such egregious violations deserve tough punishment. We urge the hearing officer who this month listened to defenses from Kuhlman and Dillinger to uphold the dismissals. In so doing, he’ll also reinforce the seriousness of Ohio’s commitment to open and transparent government.