Altered guide steams Polivka

Campaign literature featured photo of write-in opponent

WARREN — An incumbent Trumbull County commissioner is upset a photo of one of his opponents  showed up in altered campaign literature that appeared Sunday evening at a voter information event at a Warren church.

Commissioner Daniel J. Polivka, the Democrat who attended the event with opponents Republican Mary Williams and write-in independent Todd Johnson, said he was “befuddled” when he saw a copy of the postcard listing endorsed Democrat candidates that voters were mailed. However the bogus copy replaced his picture with one of Johnson.

Johnson, when reached by the Tribune Chronicle Sunday evening, said he didn’t know where the altered voters’ guide came from. He said it was the first time he saw this copied document during the event at Greater  Apostolic  Faith Church on Tod Avenue NW.

Polivka, who is also the county’s Democratic Party chairman, said he first spotted the altered guides at a voter information table at the church. He said the bogus copies were placed next to campaign literature for Johnson, the write-in candidate who joined the race in late August.

“I just don’t know what to say,” Polivka said Monday adding the local party is contemplating taking action, but he was not clear about what type of action.

Jeff Goodman, an attorney and parliamentarian for the county Democrats, said the copied mailer is literature that could be subject to election and copyright law. The voters’ guide is mailed to every registered Democrat in Trumbull County and contains the names and pictures of all local, federal and statewide candidates who are on today’s ballot.

“This is paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party,” said Goodman ” From a legal standpoint, there can be implications of theft and fraud.”

Calls to the Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in Columbus and to Elder Phillip W. Shealey, pastor of the Warren church, were not returned Monday afternoon.

Phil Richter, executive director and staff attorney for the Ohio Elections Commission, said there is not much the commission can do about the issue since no one took responsibility for altering the guides found at the church. Also no one knows how widespread — if at all — the altered guides were distributed.

The copy showed only a picture of Johnson and a caption reading “Trumbull County commissioner.” It did not contain his name.

Richter said more information is needed about the issue, but said there is a concern the document didn’t have a disclaimer on it.

“The Democrats may have an issue with this,” he said noting his commission mainly deals with campaign finance issues.

Goodman said in his years in politics, he has never seen something like this.

“This is a complete misrepresentation to Trumbull County voters,” Goodman said. “From my position in the party, I would leave it to voters to judge the character of a person who would do something like this.”