By Nancy Bowman
The former Miami County deputy elections director is suing the Board of Elections and a former member claiming the board violated open meeting laws and the former member defamed him in describing why he was terminated from his position in early 2017.
Eric Morgan of Tipp City filed the lawsuit Jan. 12 in county Common Pleas Court against the board and former board member Dean Tamplin, a Tipp City resident. Tamplin left the board in February 2017 when his term expired.
Neither board representatives nor Tamplin would comment on the lawsuit.
Morgan asks the court to overturn the board's Jan. 24, 2017 vote to terminate him from the job and to order his reinstatement. He also seeks back pay and more than $25,000 in damages from the elections board.
Morgan, who was hired as deputy director in March 2013, claims the board failed to follow legal requirements in meetings to discuss his job and his termination.
He further alleges he was told by the board in September 2016 to refrain from discussing John Bud" O'Brien, the county Republican Party chairman or "any improprieties that would cast the board in a negative light." When Morgan didn't comply, the board held another closed executive session and ordered him to refrain from further comments, the suit alleges.
It also claims that in January 2017, Tamplin asked Morgan - a member of the county Democratic Party Executive Committee - to support his return to the board, but Morgan refused to say if he would make that commitment.
The county Republican and Democratic parties make recommendations to the Secretary of State on people to serve on the elections board. The board typically has two Democrats and two Republicans. In January 2017, it has two Republicans - Jose Lopez and Ryan King - and Tamplin was the lone Democrat following the retirement of Democrat Kelly Gillis at the end of 2016.
A few days after his discussion with Tamplin, Morgan claims the board called a special meeting for an executive session but failed to properly vote to move to the closed-door session.
During that meeting, Morgan claims Tamplin asked him to resign. When he refused, the board voted to terminate him as deputy director, the lawsuit claims.
Morgan further claims "Tamplin made statements to the press and other members of the board that the Democratic Party lost confidence in Morgan and that was the reason for his termination." Morgan claims the statements were false, defamatory and "severely damaged" his reputation and his career as an elections official.
The suit seeks more than $25,000 in compensatory and in excess of $25,000 in punitive damages from Tamplin. The lawsuit was assigned to Judge Christopher Gee.