The attorney for Sarah Chambers, the whistleblower, and former co-campaign manager for Joseph K. Blystone’s gubernatorial campaign, told The Ohio Star Blystone’s lawsuit filed Tuesday asking the court to order the Ohio Elections Commission to dismiss Chambers’ October 28, 51-page complaint against him is a futile and desperate exercise.
“The old saying is, if the facts are on your side, you pound the facts. If the law’s on your side, you pound the law. If neither the facts nor the law is on your side, you pound the table,” said Scott A. Pullins, the Mount Vernon lawyer, who has for many years represented candidates, campaigns and political action committees.
“Joe and his attorney clearly are pounding the table. His poor attorney’s got a bad client and a bad case,” he said.
Pullins said the procedural and technical problems that Blystone cites as reasons for the Ohio Elections Commission have nothing to do with the complaint’s substance, which alleges with several examples of how Blystone mishandled cash contributions.
“This complaint was initially filed pro se. There were some minor errors in it, but that’s certainly not enough for the commission to throw it out,” he said. “In fact, the commission has the authority if they think it’s procedurally defective, they could send it back to us and say: ‘Hey, file an amended complaint and clear those up,’”
Chambers first filed the complaint pro se, which means that she did it independently without a lawyer. However, shortly after she filed, Pullins made a court appearance and became her counsel of record.
The Chambers complaint names Blystone, his wife, and campaign treasurer M. Jane Blystone and the campaign committee Friends of Joe as respondents.
“He had his attorney file on the Franklin County Common Police Court what’s called a complaint for a writ of mandamus, and what that is, is he’s actually suing the Ohio Elections Commission and requesting a court order for them to dismiss the complaint that they’ve already found probable cause for,” he said.
Pullins said if the commissioners found faults with the complaint, they would have been addressed them at the preliminary hearing.
“It’s even specifically in their rules; if the defects are serious enough, they can send it back and have me amend the complaint,” he said.
“The commission is used to seeing pro se complainants,” he said. “They’re really concerned about the merits, the evidence of what happened versus some arcane little minor procedural defect.”
Commissioners voted 7-0, at their December 16 preliminary hearing on the complaint, to proceed to a full hearing on it, after rejecting Blystone’s request for the commissioners to dismiss the Chambers complaint.
Pullins said the Blystone suit has no merit.
“It’s really kind of desperation tactics because these issues have been litigated many times over the years,” he said.
“He wants to avoid that process, like his motion to dismiss; it’s all based upon procedural defects and technicalities,” he said. “He has not yet denied any of the allegations to speak of, and he really can’t deny the allegations because we think they’re absolutely true.”
On the Chambers side of the case, Blystone, his wife and the committee have until the close of business February 3 to comply with Chambers’ discovery request made through the investigative authority of the commission.
“I really don’t expect them to respond, and I believe I’ll probably have to get an order from the commission to make them respond,” Pullins said.
No date has been set for the full hearing on the Chambers complaint.
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Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network. Send him news tips: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @neilwmccabe2.
Photo “Joe Blystone” by Blystone for Governor of Ohio.