June 25, 2016

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Documents show more spoke out against court clerk

MEDINA — Julie Kauffman wasn’t the only person who went to the Medina County prosecutor with allegations of misconduct regarding county Clerk of Courts David Wadsworth’s 2012 election campaign, according to federal court documents.

Wadsworth, who won a four-year term last November, is facing a federal lawsuit from Kauffman, his former chief deputy clerk.

The suit, filed in June, accuses Wadsworth of violating her First Amendment right to free speech by firing her in retaliation for telling the prosecutor that Wadsworth used clerk’s office materials in his campaign, pressured his workers to vote for him, kept a map of his campaign yard signs in his office and filmed a political advertisement in the clerk’s office.

Court documents filed by county Prosecutor Dean Holman on Oct. 29 state at least one other employee of the clerk’s office and a third person told him about the allegations.

“In September 2012, the Medina County prosecutor was approached by two Medina County clerk of courts employees who informed the prosecutor of potential irregularities with the clerk’s 2012 election campaign,” Holman’s motion read. “Later, in November 2012, the prosecutor received a telephone call from a private citizen regarding allegations of potential misconduct by the Medina County clerk of courts.”

Holman did not identify the three people.

Holman said he passed the accusations along to the county sheriff’s office, and Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter was appointed to handle the case.

Baxter charged Wadsworth in September with misusing public funds, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Wadsworth pleaded no contest Sept. 4 and was allowed to enter a first-offender program. If he completes the program, the charge will be dropped.

Holman’s statements are included in a motion opposing a subpoena filed by Kauffman’s attorneys requesting documents from the Wadsworth investigation — including any interview notes, files on Wadsworth, memoranda and correspondence.

In his response, Holman said he can’t turn over the documents because he doesn’t have them — the special prosecutor does. In addition, he said some of the documents are confidential, pending the charges against Wadsworth in municipal court.

Wadsworth’s attorneys filed a memo Friday arguing that Holman’s motion should be granted because the investigatory documents are “not relevant to any claim or defense” used in Kauffman’s suit.

In addition, the attorneys said the documents should not be released because they “have the potential to publicly embarrass” Wadsworth and would be used “to annoy and harass those who participated in the investigation.”

A response from Kauffman’s attorneys is due at 10 a.m. today.

In her lawsuit, Kauffman is seeking reinstatement of her job, damages from the county and from Wadsworth, attorneys’ fees and a declaratory judgment that Wadsworth violated her rights.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.