Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Russo subpoenas: round 2

On WCPN's Reporters' Roundtable today, Dan Moulthrop and I talked about the subpoenas Frank Russo's lawyer fired off at the petitioners who want the county auditor's books examined. Here's a link to the show -- we talk about Russo starting at the 31:40 mark.

Russo's lawyer, John Climaco, says the exam would disrupt the county auditor's office and the state auditor's annual review of its finances. Climaco says he'll try to require the petitioners to pay for any damages. He's sent a second subpoena to county GOP chair Rob Frost -- a story about it just went up on Climaco says he has a copy of an e-mail Frost used to recruit the other petitioners.

That brings up the question Moulthrop asked me on the air this morning. If Climaco can prove the petition is a Republican effort, so what? Even Cuyahoga County Republicans, that rare and reviled breed, have the right to petition the government and to join political parties. (I think that's Jeff Darcy's point in his editorial cartoon today.)

OK, so this law that Frost and the other petitioners are using is definitely old and strange. Any 20 people can force an examination of the county auditor or treasurer's books! The best evidence that it's an ancient law (almost as old as our county goverment structure itself)? The examiners get paid $3 a day!

On the other hand, the petitioners have this going for them: it's hard to call their effort frivolous when the office they want examined was raided by the FBI.

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