Man charged with assault arrested
Accused of pushing man at GOP rally
BOARDMAN — The man previously charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly assaulting a man at Mahoning County Republican Party headquarters in April, while U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance was visiting, was arrested Wednesday and appeared in court Thursday.
Dennis Zimmet, 70, of Calla Woods in Canfield, was arrested by Beaver Township police Wednesday, booked into the Mahoning County jail and released the same day on bond. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday to one assault charge, a first-degree misdemeanor. A pretrial was set for Aug. 12, court records show.
According to a police report, Zimmet pushed a man toward the door of the rally in Boardman, where Vance was speaking on April 27, because the man was holding signs protesting Vance. The man fell to the ground, cutting his hand and hitting his head. Zimmet claims he did not push the man, saying the man tripped.
In addition to the criminal case against Zimmet, the man injured, David Kissinger, and his wife Cheryl, of 7601 Scotts Mill Road, Rogers, have filed a federal lawsuit against him. The complaint was filed in U.S. Northern Ohio District Court by Sarah Kovoor, a Republican who lost the May 3 primary for a seat on the 11th District Court of Appeals.
The civil lawsuit charges the county Republican Party — led by Thomas P. McCabe and Robert Aurandt — plus a Columbiana County GOP official, with violating Kissinger’s right to free speech. In addition to the First Amendment violation claim, the suit charges battery, assault, negligence, defamation, false light and causing suffering to Kissinger and his wife.
According to a news release announcing the lawsuit by Kovoor, Kissinger was invited to GOP headquarters, 8381 Market St., to drop off signs for GOP gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone and Senate candidate Mark Pukita. Kissinger also possessed a sign that partially read: “Vance is a Fraud. Trump is Selling Us Out!”
The complaint alleges that McCabe, as chairman of the county party, had a duty to train his people on how to handle potential conflicts and de-escalation techniques. It charges McCabe with negligence.
Kissinger claims in the lawsuit that Aurandt was one of two men who assaulted him, although no criminal charges have been filed against him.
Also named as defendants are David W. Johnson, chairman of the Columbiana County GOP as well as three unnamed GOP representatives. Johnson is accused of sending a letter to the editor to a Columbiana County newspaper and a social media post containing false, offensive and derogatory statements against the Kissingers.