This story has been corrected with updated information on Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove's ruling.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
Although he’s convinced the November election he lost for Youngstown mayor was “tainted with fraud and many irregularities,” Sean McKinney withdrew a lawsuit seeking a new election.
That withdrawal was met by outrage by Mahoning County officials.
McKinney, an independent candidate who lost to Democrat Jamael Tito Brown by 201 votes, pulled the complaint Wednesday, a day before the case was to go to trial.
McKinney said he did so because visiting Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove denied his request Tuesday to subpoena 13 current and former Mahoning County officials before the trial, making it “impossible” to properly challenge the election results in court. However, county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains said the denial was only for depositions, not for trial testimony.
“The 2017 election was flawed and plagued with countless irregularities that we believe convincingly made it impossible to know the true will of the voters,” he said.
McKinney’s announcement, including his continued insistence that the election was filled with fraud, drew sharp criticism from county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains.
Gains, who attended McKinney’s news conference at the common pleas court rotunda, said he was “dismayed” at the continued “lies” told by the failed candidate.
Standing in front of 11 boxes of evidence at the board of elections, Gains said there was no voter fraud and challenged McKinney to not dismiss the lawsuit and have the case heard in court.
The mayoral winner Brown said “what saddens me more than anything is we wasted taxpayer dollars” on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit cost the board of elections $23,463, primarily to pay workers overtime to honor
McKinney’s public records requests, according to board Director Joyce Kale-Pesta.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, vice chairman of the county board of elections, said: “We are outraged to learn that Sean McKinney has continued his attacks on the board of elections. His refusal to accept the will of the voters is troubling.”
McKinney said he will turn over documents he’s obtained in his case to the Ohio secretary of state for that office to conduct an investigation.
Betras said he welcomed such a review “as we did nothing wrong. It is troubling he cannot accept a loss in an election and he and his lawyer would have lost in court. His press conference [Wednesday] was baseless and filled with outright lies.”
Donald C. Brey, McKinney’s attorney, acknowledged the secretary of state can’t order a new election.
Board of Elections Chairman Mark Munroe, who is also head of the county Republican Party, said McKinney’s allegations of double voting and not allowing some eligible voters to cast ballots were “lies. It didn’t happen.”
McKinney filed the lawsuit Dec. 7 against the board of elections and Brown. In his complaint, McKinney pointed to several cases in the Nov. 7 election of what he called “fraud.” County prosecutors refuted each of the claims in a motion.
Also Wednesday, Betras rebuked Youngstown Councilwoman Basia Adamczak, D-7th, a McKinney supporter who attended the county officials’ news conference at the board of elections. Betras contended Adamczak helped push McKinney to file the lawsuit, which she said wasn’t true.
Betras said he would work to make sure Adamczak had an opponent who would defeat her in the 2019 Democratic primary.
“You’re maintaining the lie that this election was not valid,” Betras said.
“I’m disappointed Mr. Betras conducted himself in this unprofessional manner,” Adamczak said.
This wasn’t the only time the November election was called into question.
The board had to adopt new policies addressing how it handles elections at the insistence of the secretary of state after a mistake led to the double counting of more than 6,000 early-vote ballots.