Liberty Township resident Bryan Newell has filed a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission (OEC) against Trustee Melanie Leneghan for alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars.
“Today (July 7), I notified the Ohio Ethics Commission that Melanie Leneghan is using township taxpayer dollars for political purposes in her impending re-election campaign,” he said. “We cannot allow Melanie Leneghan to blatantly use taxpayer dollars for her political purposes.”
Newell’s complaint to the OEC states that Trustee Michael Gemperline and Leneghan voted to spend $10,000 of the township’s tax dollars to send out a newsletter.
“The reason for the newsletter was to explain their (Leneghan and Gemperline’s) position on the EMS (emergency medical services) controversy which has embroiled the southern Delaware County township over the last six months,” Newell states in his complaint.
“More than half of the newsletter pertained to the EMS issue,” he states to the OEC.
The Liberty Township Board of Trustees, during a special meeting June 19, voted 2-1 to approve a resolution authorizing a $10,000 expenditure for a township mailer that was centered around the township’s fire-based EMS.
“The “ploy was immediately uncovered by the third trustee, (Trustee) Shyra Eichhorn, who refused to vote for spending the money on the newsletter,” Newell states in his complaint.
During the June 19 meeting, Eichhorn issued words of warning to her two fellow trustees.
“It’s not a newsletter, no matter how many smoke and mirrors are built around it,” she said. “Based on the previous drafts, especially the ones you authored Trustee Leneghan, this is nothing to do with getting the newsletter out to the residents. I’ve made it very clear how I feel about this that we’re wasting $10,000 of our residents’ tax dollars to build a defense for the two of you.”
Gemperline and Leneghan voted to approve the $10,000 expenditure.
“I believe that this is a blatant scheme to use taxpayer dollars for political purposes,” Newell states. “This newsletter shows the total disregard that Melanie Leneghan has for the residents of Liberty Township and the taxes that they pay. Her uncontrolled spending of taxpayer dollars for her own political gain must stop.”
Newell has filed with the Delaware County Board of Elections (DCBOE) to run for Liberty Township trustee in November’s general election.
“Yet another false accusation by a political opponent,” Leneghan stated Monday in text message to The Gazette. “It’s sad that these folks didn’t and don’t use their money and time for something useful like human trafficking victims or cancer research … They deceived and lied to their neighbors creating a circus in our community. My choice is to move forward and do good for our community, the residents, and our property values.”
Leneghan’s term as a Liberty Township trustee ends Dec. 31. Monday, she said that she is “running” for re-election in November, but records show that she has yet to file with the DCBOE.
“We have accomplished so much and have taken the township from dismal to an extremely healthy financial position without raising taxes,” she said. “I was hoping that someone would run with the experience and characteristics to carry on in that direction so that we could continue to increase property values and quality of life in Liberty Township. To date, that is not the case.”
The filing deadline for the November general election is 4 p.m. Aug. 7.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.