GOP chief denies meddling in Earl race

In federal court Monday, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges denied any party involvement in the challenges against Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted disqualified Earl and his running mate, Sherry Clark, from the primary election March 7, saying information was not properly disclosed by people being paid to collect petition signatures for him.

Earl, of Fostoria, said Tuesday that Husted’s office said no fraud was involved in the initial case and called it an oversight.

Earl said the Libertarian Party suspects the people who filed the protest, Gregory A. Felsoci and Tyler King, have received assistance from the Ohio Republican Party.

During this week’s hearing, Borges said he misspoke when he said last month that the Republican Party was involved.

Earl cited a Feb. 28 interview in which Borges said the party filed the protest, but backtracked and said they it was not involved when he was told challengers were required by law to be Libertarians.

As part of the case, Earl also said the law that pushed him and Clark from the ballot has never been prosecuted or challenged since its inception. The law required the petition circulator to tell signers he was employed by Earl and that he was not a Libertarian, neither of which happened.

Earl said the man he employed was an independent contractor who has done this work before and not been challenged since the law was put in place.

Although they were removed from the ballot, Earl said the case stated he and Clark had no intention to deceive.

Earl said he thought the case would result in the law being changed or it would be more strictly enforced to avoid the issue in the future.

He also said the Republican Party was looking for a reason to eliminate him from the ballot.

“I’m hopeful and confident (of being reinstated to the primary ballot),” he said. “It, in a sense, justifies what I’m doing, what we’re doing. It just shows they’re greedy about power. It’s sad that they have to go to this length for a minor party.”

Earl said he was expecting a ruling on the federal court case by the end of the week.