Thursday, November 5, 2020

Board continues to probe false claims

The election may be over, but members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees still have some concerns about inaccurate and misleading political claims made during the campaign.

At the meeting of the board members Oct. 27, Trustee Tim Rush asked township attorney Rob Young about the status of his investigation into false allegations made by Jim Clark, a candidate for township treasurer. In published claims, Clark had incorrectly stated that there was a large amount of money missing from township bank accounts. Clark offered no proof of the claim and the township recently completed two independent audits of the finances which determined there was no impropriety or any discrepancy in any of the accounts.

The claims, however, were taken seriously by the administration and Supervisor John Morgan suggested that Young determine where Clark might have gotten such misinformation.

Young told the board trustees that he had nothing new to report, although his review had been extensive and was not yet complete. He said he had not yet contacted Clark as he wanted to insure he had all the other information collected prior to submitting it to Clark for his response. 

Trustee Matt Oddy said that the board members had taken the allegations seriously and noted that current Treasurer Kenneth Bendark had reversed his endorsement of Clark due to the erroneous claims. Oddy said when amounts were so specific, the board had an obligation to investigated. 

“He should be held accountable and responsible for his actions,” Oddy said.

Young replied that it is the obligation of the treasurer to be the steward of the township monies and that Bednark knew there was no money missing from any township account.

“Unpaid water billings or tax obligations are not missing money. They may be delinquent but they are not missing,” Young said.

Trustee Tim Rush said that this misinformation has continued to spread through the community and that he was asked about it while shopping. 

“We have an AA minus bond rating, the audits found no irregularities, no anomalies,” he said. “This allegation was made to damage the current administration,” Rush said.

Young said he would continue to investigate the matter, although it was taking a great deal of time.