Friday, December 15, 2000

Embattled board of elections chief quits

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Don Daiker, the target of an investigation by the Ohio Secretary of State's Office for most of this year, resigned Thursday as chairman of the Butler County Board of Elections.

        Mr. Daiker gave no reason for his resignation from the board of elections in his brief letter to Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Mr. Daiker could not be reached for comment.

        The Secretary of State's office has been investigating an allegation that Mr. Daiker and Mark Conese, a board of elections member, threatened to fire Brent Dixon right after hiring him to be a special assistant to the board if he didn't contribute his after-tax income to the party. The special assistant's position paid $6,000.

        Mr. Daiker, chairman of the Butler County Democratic Party for 3 1/2 years, and Mr. Conese, a former county domestic relations judge, have denied any wrongdoing.

        Mr. Dixon, and his father, Donald Dixon, a former chairman of the Butler County Democratic Party and a big party contributor, became registered Republicans after the alleged threat.

        James Lee, a Secretary of State spokesman, said he has no knowledge that Mr. Daiker's resignation has any connection to the investigation, which is continuing.

        Board of elections members receive an annual salary of about $14,000.

        Carlos Todd and Mary Swain, Republican members of the board of elections, declined to speculate about why Mr. Daiker resigned.

        Both praised his professional manner in conducting the board meetings.

        “If he did anything to get into trouble, it was outside the board meetings,” said Mr. Todd, who also is chairman of the Butler County Republican Party.


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