Cuyahoga County Executive and Councilmembers Issue Joint Response to State Auditor Yost’s Personal Threats and Unprofessional Conduct

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CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and members of the Cuyahoga County Council – President C. Ellen Connally, Vice-President Dan Brady, Yvonne Conwell, Chuck Germana, Anthony Hairston, Pernel Jones, Jr., Dale Miller, and co-sponsor of the legislation, Sunny Simon – sharply criticized State Auditor Dave Yost today for his unprofessional conduct and for threatening the personal finances of officials who authorized the county to send vote-by-mail applications to registered voters.

"I am outraged that Auditor Yost would escalate this debate with shameless personal attacks and a threat to target the personal finances of public officials who want to promote voter participation. Unfortunately, this is just another example of the reputation he’s earned for partisanship and a failure to do his job as our state auditor,” said County Executive FitzGerald. “Let me be clear – we are not going to give in to this attempt at coercion. And if the state fails to send out vote-by-mail applications, we will provide this service for our constituents. Period."

Yost’s comments Wednesday, which were first reported on, came after FitzGerald introduced and Cuyahoga County Council passed into law the Cuyahoga County Voting Rights Law – legislation that authorizes the county to send out vote-by-mail applications. Although House Republicans initially threatened to cut funding for Cuyahoga County, they backed down after FitzGerald requested a federal investigation into ongoing efforts to suppress urban and minority voters.

“It is deeply offensive that State Auditor Dave Yost would resort to these kinds of tactics while our state faces so many urgent challenges today,” said Cuyahoga County Council President Connally. “We take our responsibilities to the County very seriously, especially our duty to protect the right to vote. We will not back down in the face of these threats.”

In 2011, Cleveland Magazine criticized Yost for a “misuse of his authority” after he suggested on his political campaign website that he might target Cuyahoga County after FitzGerald challenged Secretary of State Jon Husted’s efforts to eliminate the sending of vote-by-mail applications. FitzGerald’s opposition eventually forced Husted to send vote-by-mail applications statewide.