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Lawsuit seeks to void primary election of Campbell Commissioner Painter for alleged illegal campaigning

By Jack Brammer
NKyTribune reporter

Republican Campbell County Commissioner Brian Painter has been sued for allegedly illegally campaigning for the May primary election.

The lawsuit in Campbell Circuit Court was filed May 27 by David Fischer of Fort Thomas, the vice chair of the Campbell County Republican Party. Fischer lost the May 17 election to Brian Painter by 106 votes, a difference of about 1.2 percent of the votes cast.

Fisher is asking the court to void the election and declare him the winner.

Dave Fischer

In a response filed Thursday, Painter, through his attorney Jim Morgan, denied the allegations and asked that the suit be dismissed. Morgan was not immediately available for comment.

The 16-page suit contends that Painter, the longest-serving Republican Campbell County commissioner on the current fiscal court who has been on the panel since 2010, illegally campaigned for himself and others at least six different times inside the board of elections during training sessions for poll workers.

The suit notes that state election law requires all poll workers to be trained by the county clerk and county attorney and candidates are prohibited from being within 100 feet of a polling place during voting or from campaigning or placing campaign materials inside a polling place.

It said the training for 158 poll workers for the Campbell County race was held at the Campbell County Administration Building, which houses the county clerk’s office or county board of elections.

While early absentee voting was going on May 2, 3 and 4, the lawsuit says, Painter spoke to, gave campaign literature and solicited votes from Republican poll workers inside poll worker training areas for himself and others.

Brian Painter

It said the poll workers voted after their election training.

Fischer’s attorney, Steven Megerle, said in a news release that members of the Campbell County Republican Party’s election integrity committee filed an informal grievance with County Clerk and Board of Elections Chair Jim Luersen, who acknowledged the incidents but claimed it was a “longstanding tradition” to allow any candidate to visit with likely poll workers.

Luersen could not be reached for comment.

Besides Painter, the lawsuit names as respondents the Painter for Commissioner Committee, unknown volunteers for Painter’s campaign listed as John and Jane Does, Luersen and members of the Campbell County Board of Elections.

The complaint by Fischer was forwarded to state Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office to review.

Campaigning and electioneering inside a polling place is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and a civil remedy involving voiding an election nomination.

Fischer’s attorney, Megerle, a member of the Campbell County Republican Committee, said Friday he has not heard anything from the attorney general’s office and no court hearing has yet been set.

He said the circuit judges in Campbell Circuit Court have recused themselves from the case and Charles R. Hickman, chief judge of the Kentucky Circuit Court, will appoint a special judge.

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