Lawsuit against Lake County Republican leaders dismissed –

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Former county commissioner candidate Kimberly Laurie has voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit she filed against the Lake County Republican Party’s Executive Committee.

Republican Laurie filed the complaint on March 11, 2016, in Lake County Common Pleas Court. In the suit, she accused two unidentified individuals of identity fraud. The two people sent emails made to appear as though they came from Laurie, one at 11:51 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2015, and the other at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 23, 2015, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Gregory Sasse of Cleveland.

Laurie, who was defeated in the Republican primary on March 15, 2016, by Jerry Cirino, also accused officers of the Republican Party of intimidation and defamation for distributing and discussing the emails in public.

The named defendants in the complaint were: Janet Clair, David Vitaz, Sue Betteley, Dale Fellows, Amy Sabath and Jason Wuliger.


Melissa Yasinow, the defendants’ attorney, argued that party officers cannot be held individually liable for reasonable conduct taken within their official capacities.

In addition, all of Laurie’s claims are meritless, Yasinow added.

According to Yasinow’s July motion to dismiss the suit:

• Two emails were sent from what appears to be Laurie’s email address in November 2015. The first discusses the importance of “fighting back” against “Rino candidate(s),” (Editor’s note: RINO stands for Republican in Name Only) including Congressman David Joyce. (Laurie admitted not supporting Joyce when he sought the Party’s endorsement in 2014).

• The second email has the subject line “Christian Values,” and urges recipients not to trust politicians, including “our republican party leadership.”

• On Aug. 31, 2015, Clair passed out copies of the emails at the Party’s Central Committee meeting and questioned Laurie about them during a public comment and question session. Laurie denied writing them.

• On Sept. 4, 2015, Laurie filed a report with Willoughby police, claiming she had not written the emails and that a crime may have been committed against her. Laurie claimed Fellows and Clair lied to Willoughby police about the emails, which constitutes obstruction of justice.

• Nonthreatening criticism of candidates for public office does not constitute intimidation under Ohio law.

“… Despite Plaintiff’s claims that she did not write the emails, there are no allegations stating that Officer Clair had any reason to doubt Plaintiff’s authorship of them at the time of the August meeting,” Yasinow wrote in her motion.

Laurie filed the suit to “get to the truth and preserve Kim Laurie’s excellent reputation as a person of unquestioned integrity and honor,“ Sasse said in his letter accompanying the complaint.

The case was assigned to retired Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove.

The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled again at a later date.