The Summit County Board of Elections will investigate whether retired sheriff Drew Alexander violated any election laws last year when he used campaign funds to install a security system at his house.
The board voted Tuesday to have its director and deputy director look into the expense and report back.
“This appears to be an irregularity,” said Ray Weber, a Republican member of the elections board.
Based on the investigation, the board will decide if Alexander’s expense should be reported to the Ohio Elections Commission, just as a similar expense by former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann was referred to the commission. The board also could decide a hearing is warranted, said Alex Arshinkoff, the second GOP member of the board and the Summit County Republican Party chairman.
Alexander, who chose not to run for re-election last year, has said he used campaign funds to install the security system because of threats made against him. On Tuesday, he said he welcomes the board’s scrutiny.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Alexander, a Republican who served three terms as sheriff. “We followed the code on it — what was in the books. We didn’t do anything to circumvent the system.”
Securi-Com of Canton was paid $2,628 to install the security system in November, according to a campaign finance report filed with the elections board.
Alexander said he has saved letters and other documents from people who say they want to kill him. He said an officeholder whose life is threatened is permitted to put in a security system.
Randy Briggs, who was Alexander’s legal counsel at the sheriff’s office and now serves in that capacity for Sheriff Steve Barry, said he researched the expense and sought the commission’s opinion. The group did not indicate the expense would not be permitted, he said.
The commission found fault with a similar expense by Dann, fining him and his campaign $1,000 each. Dann’s former campaign treasurer also was fined $250.
Dann, a Democrat who resigned in 2008 amid an ethics scandal, appealed the decision to court but lost.
Dann cited threats against his life as the reason he spent $40,000 in campaign funds on a closed-circuit, video-monitored security system and new windows, doors and other improvements to his home after he took office in 2007.
Joe Masich, director of the elections board, said he isn’t sure how long the investigation into Alexander’s spending will take, but he does not expect it to be completed by the board’s next meeting, March 19.