Reynolds told the Journal-News he’s served the county over the past 14 years “with dignity and professionalism.”
“I’ve cut costs, advanced conservative policies, and fought for taxpayers at every opportunity,” Reynolds said. “I respectfully ask everyone to reserve judgment and allow for due process so I may prove my innocence.”
Reynolds is charged with using his office to ask for tax increment financing (TIF) funds to help improve Hamilton-Mason Road so land owned by his father could sell for a senior living development.
Before the criminal indictments, Reynolds was being civilly sued by the owner of a property across the road from his father’s land. Developers for that rival senior living development claim to have written notes and a recorded phone call where Reynolds allegedly asked for a “cash payment” to serve as a consultant and use political influence to get TIF funds to improve the road in question.
Those road improvements would help develop properties along Hamilton-Mason Road.
The civil suit was filed in September by 88-year-old Gerald Parks. Reynolds has said the civil suit should not be mixed with the criminal investigation.
If he is found guilty on all five charges, Reynolds could face up to seven years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Jones said he believed he could have defeated Reynolds in a partisan primary, but that would have been” very costly” and likely needed the endorsement of the county party. However, the party endorsement process preceded the primary election filing deadline.
Several politicians, including Butler County GOP Chairman Todd Hall, called for Reynolds to resign. Jones wouldn’t directly say if Reynolds should step down as county auditor, but said, “Pastors, policemen, and politicians are ordinarily held to a higher standard, but it’s a matter of conscience.”
Hall said the party respects Jones’ decision to drop from the race “in what would surely be a spectacle of a primary.”
“This is a very unfortunate situation with investigations, indictments, and accusations everywhere,” Hall said. “The truth will surely find its way out, but we all hope it is sooner rather than later.”
If Reynolds stays in the race, he may have a Democratic challenger. Dave Spurrier is the Democratic write-in candidate in the May primary but needs to receive at least 50 write-in votes to advance to November.
MORE ON ROGER REYNOLDS
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