County election board to weigh alternate legal representation

County solicitor Louis Glantz has recommended a separate attorney be identified to represent the Board of Elections after an apparent conflict of interest was brought to light.

According to an email from Centre County Democratic Committee Chairman Greg Stewart, Glantz hosted a fundraiser on Sept. 22 for Commissioners Steve Dershem and Chris Exarchos — both of whom are running on the Republican ticket for election on Nov. 3. An attached flyer for the event indicated a reception for the commissioners was hosted by Glantz, Phil Bosak and Paul and Nancy Silvis.

Friends of the commissioners were encouraged to make contributions of $100 each, according to the flyer.

“We believe this is a conflict of interest as Mr. Glantz is serving as the solicitor of the Centre County Board of Elections,” Stewart said in his email.

The county became aware of an inquiry made by Stewart relative to Glantz’s ability to serve in his attorney capacity, county Administrator Tim Boyde said Tuesday during the weekly commissioners meeting.

Boyde said he received an email on Sept. 23 from Glantz suggesting that an alternate attorney be identified to respond to any questions relating to the race for county commissioner. He also said the Board of Elections is reviewing the suggestion.

“It’s my understanding that they have accepted the recommendation to make an appointment specific to the county commissioners race,” he said.

Boyde said the individual has not been identified yet.

Election and Voter Registration Director Joyce McKinley verified the Board of Elections is reviewing the suggestion. She could not give a timeline when the decision would be made public.

Stewart commented Tuesday that he felt Glantz should step away from the election as a whole, saying the attorney is clearly supporting one side of the ballot.

“We need to find someone who can serve in that capacity until after Nov. 3,” he said, “and after the election has been certified.”

Glantz said Tuesday that he had made the decision to step aside “as it pertains to the election board during the election,” verifying his duties regarding the Board of Elections will be handled by a different attorney.

“I made that suggestion because I didn’t want to create an issue where there is none,” he said. “Keep in mind that the position of solicitor is somewhat of a political thing because I’m an appointee of the majority of the board, which is always one party or another.

“By design, there’s some politics to it,” he said.

This conflict is the latest in a string of controversies that have plagued the county commissioners in 2015.

Glantz and Boyde, along with Commissioners Dershem, Exarchos and Michael Pipe, were all identified in various capacities in a lawsuit filed by Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller in August.

The suit accuses those named in it of conspiracy, abuse of court processes, and causing emotional distress to Parks Miller — who ran on the Democratic ticket in 2009 and 2013 — and claims that she should be awarded damages as the “target of a maliciously false, personally and politically motivated power play” designed to drive her from office and destroy her reputation.

Judge Pamela A. Ruest and local attorneys Philip Masorti, Bernard Cantorna, Sean McGraw and Andrew Shubin were all named individually. So was Michelle Shutt, a former paralegal in Parks Miller’s office who claimed she witnessed Parks Miller forge Ruest’s signature on a bail order.

The district attorney, county commissioners and several defense attorneys have been at odds since January, when Shutt’s allegations were made public at a commissioners’ meeting. Parks Miller has claimed since then that she has been subject to a politically motivated conspiracy.