(1-25-23) Chris Gibbs, who worked for the Mercer County Farm Service Agency for over 25 years, was not appointed by Ohio State Secretary of State Frank LaRose to the Shelby County Board of Elections.
LaRose sent the following to Tom Kerrigan, chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party’s Executive Committee –
“Based on the evidence and information provided to me, I have decided not to appoint Mr. Gibbs to serve on the Shelby County Board of Elections. This decision follows a thorough review of his criminal background check, relevant personal and professional history, publicly available records, and anecdotal feedback provided to me by county residents who know him and have worked with him. As I wrote in my correspondence to you on December 17, 2022, one such matter referred to me for consideration raised concerns about his competency based on Mr. Gibbs’s past conduct as a political candidate.”
Gibbs response to the decision –
“Secretary LaRose came after my son. He came after my friend John Lenhart, and he came after my integrity. I’ll take hits to my honor all day and write it off as bare-knuckle political bullying. I’m immune to that. But don’t you dare come after my son or my friends,” said Gibbs. “That’s a bridge too far and only demonstrates that my detractors are petrified of my re-nomination to the Board of Elections because they know I won’t tolerate deviation from the Ohio Revised Code, and I certainly won’t tolerate using the Board of Elections as a political weapon as it was used against now Sheriff Frye in the 2020 Primary. At that time, a complaint was manufactured and filed with the Elections Commission in an attempt to embarrass the Frye campaign and elevate his opponent. Because the attempt was too cute by half, it failed.
“It’s obvious that the radical right-wing Liberty Group controlled Shelby County Republican Central Committee’s fingerprints are all over this. I’m confident a forthcoming open records request for communication with Secretary of State officials will shed light,” Gibbs said. “This is what happens to those brave enough to speak out against the radical right MAGA wing of the GOP. They’ll use all the tools at their disposal to discredit and spook you into silence. Well, that doesn’t work for me. I don’t spook, I don’t run, and I don’t hide.
“After LaRose came after my son in mid-December, he quickly realized that wasn’t going to meet muster so he had to trump up something else to hang his hat on. Just within the past week, his office nudged the Lorain County Prosecutor to restart an investigation from three years ago. At that time, my attempt to gain the signatures needed to mount a campaign against Jim Jordan was defrauded by what appeared to be an unscrupulous contractor. At that time, I begged the Prosecutor and the investigating officer to get to the bottom of any wrongdoing. Let’s be clear. I was the victim of the fraud here and the criminal system did nothing until LaRose needed a reason to deny by nomination. He then magically rolled out an ‘active’ investigation this week.”
“At the end of the day, I’m most disappointed for the Shelby County Democrat Party. Up to now, they’ve stood beside my nomination through thick and thin. I can tell you this, regardless of the final outcome, this local Party has earned my loyalty for life,”
An ongoing investigation that started with petitions that were filed during Gibbs run to unseat Jim Jordan in the US Representative US 4th District in Lorain County. LaRose gave the following explanation for his decision.
“The Lorain County Board of Elections rejected candidate petitions filed by Mr. Gibbs in 2020 alleged to contain invalid signatures of non-qualified and even deceased electors. The board voted unanimously to report the petitions to the county prosecutor for ‘investigation of possible fraud.’
“My office obtained the minutes of the Lorain County Board of Elections meeting, at which the bipartisan board members voted unanimously to refer the matter to the county prosecutor for investigation.
“Upon further inquiry to the prosecutor’s office, I received confirmation that this matter is still under active investigation. I want to reiterate my previous concern about Mr. Gibbs’s apparent lack of judgement in overseeing his own candidate petition effort, particularly with more than a decade of experience serving on a county board of elections. He should know the candidate petition requirements, one of the most basic functions of the local board, and by his own admission he not only failed to meet those requirements but did so in a manner that resulted in a unanimous criminal referral. That is not a demonstration of competency for this important position, in which he is responsible for overseeing the certification of candidacies.
“Given the unresolved nature of this matter and the importance of allowing the Shelby County Board of Elections to proceed with the people’s business unrestricted, I am rejecting this recommendation. I have stated my reasons therefore, and by law your committee “may either recommend another elector or may apply for a writ of mandamus to the supreme court to compel the secretary of state to appoint the elector so recommended.”
From the Chronicle story on May 15th, 2020-
Board members also rejected the candidacy of Chris Gibbs, an independent seeking to run in November to represent Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, for failing to get the number of required signatures.
They also voted to send to the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office a report describing how one of the people who circulated petitions for Gibbs turned in numerous troublesome signatures — including six that appeared to come from dead people, according to state vital statistics reports.
Additional details about the petitions filed are in the above Chronicle story.