December 20, 2014


No wrongdoing found so far in probe of allegations against auditor

A special prosecutor said he’s not found evidence to support allegations that Medina County Auditor Mike Kovack used resources of his office in his re-election campaign, but stressed he’s still working on the case.

“I haven’t seen anything so far that shows any improprieties,” Special Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said Tuesday, “but I’m also not done with my investigation.”

Mike Kovack

Mike Kovack

Baxter, who serves as Erie County’s prosecutor, was appointed in April after county sheriff’s deputies completed their investigation into the allegations.

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman asked that a special prosecutor be appointed to handle the case.

Baxter said he could not say when his investigation will be finished.

“We’re just not sitting on it,” Baxter said. “We’re trying to consult with Mr. Kovack and his attorney to get this investigation complete.”

Kovack said he asked for an investigation in March after a “disgruntled employee” claimed he used office materials, such as copy machines, in his re-election campaign.

Kovack, who has served as county auditor since 1993, is challenged in the Nov. 4 election by Medina Finance Director Keith Dirham.

Kovack said he was glad to hear the prosecutor hasn’t found anything to substantiate the allegations.

“I’m elated to hear that,” Kovack said. “We continue to fully cooperate in the investigation, which we instigated.”

The accusations against Kovack received wide publicity two weeks ago when the county commissioners forwarded a letter to Holman listing allegations they’d received from Kovack’s employee.

Commissioners said they passed on the information because they didn’t know an investigation already had begun.

On Tuesday, Kovack charged that the actions of the commissioners, who are all Republicans, were politically motivated.

“I am terribly disappointed with the commissioners’ actions,” Kovack said. “They most certainly knew the investigation was already going on. One can only assume it was done for political purposes.”

Kovack, Holman and Baxter are Democrats.

Commissioner Steve Hambley said earlier this month that he was unaware of any investigation and forwarded the allegations because commissioners don’t do investigations.

But Hambley, who’s running to succeed Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder as representative of the 69th District, on Tuesday clarified his previous statement.

“I had heard something was going on, but I didn’t know the specific allegations,” Hambley said. “I thought it was new information, so I wanted to give it to the person who does investigation — the prosecutor.”

Commissioners Adam Friedrick and Pat Geissman could not be reached for comment.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or Follow him on Twitter @ngfalcon.

  • nickinmedina

    Interesting that Special Prosecutor Baxter does not see any improprieties (yet). I just went back and read the archived Gazette articles about Wadsworth, who has been mentioned in the Comments section before. Baxter charged Wadsworth with a misdemeanor offense over campaign photocopies being made by an employee at one of his government offices. Yet, when his fellow Democrat, Auditor Kovack, does the very same thing using the Auditor’s office copy machine, Baxter sees nothing wrong at all with that? Something is wrong with this investigation.
    The Commissioners were right to copy both the Ohio Attorney General and Ohio Ethics Commission when they referred this matter to Prosecutor Holman and Special Prosecutor Baxter. It sounds like Holman and Baxter are covering up wrongdoing by Kovack, the same way that former Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason covered up for his political cronies Frank Russo and Jimmy Dimora a few years ago. It took the FBI and U.S. District Attorney’s office to stop government corruption in Cuyahoga County because Mason just looked the other way. The Attorney General, or someone else more independent than Baxter, clearly needs to get involved

  • nickinmedina

    On second thought, it is summertime and Baxter is the prosecutor in Erie County (Sandusky, Ohio). After the long cold winter we suffered through, I’m sure Baxter is spending this July boating and visiting the Erie Islands. He’ll probably wait until September to indict Auditor Mike Kovack.

  • buzzards27

    You claim that Mike Kovack did the same thing Wadsworth did WITHOUT any proof of that. They had proof of Wadsworth’s crimes but for everything that has been written on this I have yet to see anyone claim there is any proof Mike did anything wrong.

  • buzzards27

    Just an FYI nick, part of the Islands would be part of Baxter’s jurisdiction, Kelley Island for one, and heaven forbid, Cedar Point. It would be rotten if a citizen actually enjoys the area he lives in.

    Nick, you indicted Mike with zero proof in you previous post and you are doing the same to Baxter in this post. Again with no facts. We are all anxious to see how this plays out but your wild eyed nonense is nothing but partisan BS. You’re worse than the republican commissioners.

    If you want to go after public officials for misusing public funds ask Ms Geisman about her billing the taxpayers for her travel expenses for political activities.

  • Tim E

    Wadsworth was doing much more than that! He had employees working on his campaign and they plea bargained down to the lesser crime. And the commissioners were given that information. It’s stunning the commissioners have acted in this way. They lied about not having information about Wadsworth and they lied about not knowing an investigation of Kovack was going on. Anyone with half a brain can see what’s happening in this totally republican dominated county. And let’s not forget – despite what the media says – THE REPUBLICAN SHERIFF INVESTIGATES THESE THINGS! How come they haven’t mentioned that? This is the disgusting part of small town Medina.

  • Tori

    I tell you one thing, whether you like him or not, Kovack’s there. I knew one of the janitors there and he said Kovach was always there after hours. You’ve got to give him that. He probably puts in more hours than all those republicans combines

  • Mike W

    The thing that stuns me – the commissioners posted their charity ball on a county website, directed people to call the county office for information and to mail their checks for the charity ball to a county employee in the county office. That’s a blatant misuse of taxpayer funds. But because they’re republicans they’re not indicted? Say what you will about Cuyahoga County and the democrats, but how can you have such obviously illegal and public activity and not have these folks brought to account? And they’re chasing this kovac guys for what appears to be much more minor than this? Boy, we did move into Mayberry!

  • Critical Thinker
    Kovack runs a tight ship, he is the conservative candidate for Auditor

  • Critical Thinker

    didn’t you used to be a table dealer at the horseshoe?

  • George_Staursky

    Still am