Embattled Butler County auditor now unopposed in May primary

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds. FILE

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Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds. FILE

Reynolds: ‘I respectfully ask everyone to reserve judgment and allow for due process so I may prove my innocence’

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds will advance straight to the general election in November after his primary challenger withdrew from the race Monday.

West Chester Twp. Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones submitted a letter of withdrawal to the Butler County Board of Elections on Monday.

“I’m withdrawing because it would take a very contentious, and publicized negative campaign to educate voters about the criminal indictments that the county auditor’s facing,” Jones told the Journal-News. “And that type of campaign can cause our party to be collateral damage. I’m just not willing to wage that type of campaign. That’s just not me.”

He added that his decision “was the best decision for the Butler County Republican Party” and was not asked to drop from the race.

“I've cut costs, advanced conservative policies, and fought for taxpayers at every opportunity. I respectfully ask everyone to reserve judgment and allow for due process so I may prove my innocence."

- Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds

This now leaves Reynolds, who faces an August trial for alleged bribery and using his public office for personal gain, unopposed in the May 3 primary. Early voting opens Tuesday for the primary.

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.


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