The Ohio Ethics Commission has requested that the Williams County Board of Elections forward one of two election complaints filed recently against Shaun Fulk, a candidate running for Williams County sheriff.
The complaint was filed by Bryan resident Joel Stevens. He alleges Fulk wore a Stryker police uniform while he campaigned for sheriff at a booth during at least three days during the Williams County Fair, in violation of two sections of the Ohio Revised Code — 123:1-46-02, and 124.57.
123:1-46-02 prohibits employees in the classified service of the state from engaging in political activity; 124.57 prohibits an officer or employee in the classified service of the state from engaging in partisan political activity.
County Elections Director A.J. Nowaczyk said Thursday while the Ohio Elections Commission saw no need to review the complaint, the Ohio Ethics Commission requested the board forward the complaint to them, which it has done.
A second complaint, lodged by current Sheriff Steve Towns, “has not been officially reviewed by the Elections Commission, but they do not feel any action will be necessary,” Nowaczyk said Thursday.
In that complaint, Towns alleged Fulk used a photo from a recent fundraising event for the late sheriff’s deputy Mick Frisbee on Fulk’s Facebook campaign page, “Shaun Fulk for Williams County Sheriff,” without permission of some of those in the photo, including several sheriff’s deputies.
Fulk has removed the campaign Facebook posting.
Nowaczyk first noted the complaints at the elections board meeting Tuesday.
Both Towns and Fulk acknowledge conflict between them, with Towns alleging “work-related misconduct” by Fulk, a former sheriff’s officer, and said in late November 2018 he gave Fulk the choice to resign or be fired. Fulk resigned and joined the Stryker Police Department effective Dec. 19, 2018, according to Fulk’s personnel file provided by Stryker Police Chief Steve Schlosser.
Fulk alleges Towns misused the sheriff’s office evidence room and resented Fulk’s advice that Towns not post documents from Williams County Job and Family Services on Facebook. The posting led to four misdemeanor charges against Towns currently in Bryan Municipal Court. Fulk also said Towns had a vendetta against him once Fulk made known his interest in running for sheriff.
Stevens’ complaint also includes a letter dated Nov. 16, 2018, from Towns to Fulk, putting Fulk on administrative leave effective that day “pending the completion of an investigation of allegations of work-related misconduct while an employee of the Williams County Sheriff’s Office.”
In interviews with The Bryan Times, Towns alleged that Fulk falsified documents and was derelict in his duties. Towns provided documentation that when Fulk was on night shift in 2018, he sat in his car for anywhere from 90 minutes to up to almost four hours without any radio or computer activity, which Towns said could rise to the level of theft in office.
Towns said the complaints indicate Fulk lacks knowledge of the law.
Fulk said Towns placed a tracking device on his car and not on any other deputy’s car, and it was placed there without his knowledge. While Fulk provided copies of several commendations, he also provided copies of eight reprimands that did not include dates or specific complaints, saying they were an attempt by Towns to retroactively smear Fulk’s reputation and force him to resign.
Towns said he forwarded his investigation of Fulk to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). Friday, Steve Irwin, spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, confirmed that BCI is conducting an investigation of Towns’ allegations against Fulk, but could not comment further because it’s an ongoing investigation.
Fulk said Friday he’s unconcerned about the BCI investigation. “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong and I’m not worried about it,” he said. In this instance, Fulk believes Towns “throws a whole lot against the wall to see what sticks.”
“I’m not running that kind of campaign. I’m not slinging mud. I’ll stand up to Towns like I always have,” Fulk said, adding, “He says I should have knowledge of the law. But I’m not the one facing charges.”
Besides Towns and Fulk, at least two others have indicated they could run for sheriff. Edon resident and retired Ohio Department Of Natural Resources officer Tom Kochert said Wednesday he will submit his nominating petition in October and Pioneer Village Police Chief Tim Livengood has also pulled a petition.
Friday, Fulk said he’s undeterred by the complaints and Towns’ criticism.
“I’m confident in what I’m doing. I have the most on-the-job experience and I’m the most qualified to go out and do this thing,” Fulk said.