Butler County GOP endorses embattled Auditor Roger Reynolds

Reynolds is under indictment and goes to trial Aug. 15.

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds received the endorsement from the county Republican Party by a narrow margin despite the fact he is under an indictment for bribery and using his office for personal gain.

The GOP central committee met Tuesday night and cast secret ballots, Reynolds needed 60% of the votes and received 60.4% by a vote of 55 to 36.

“I’m pleased to receive the Butler County Republican Party endorsement. The endorsement is a vote of confidence by my peers throughout the county,” Reynolds told the Journal-News. “I have served Butler County for the past 14 years with dignity and professionalism. I’ve cut costs, advanced conservative policies and fought for taxpayers at every opportunity. It would an honor to serve another term.”

GOP Chairman Todd Hall told the Journal-News Reynolds asked for the endorsement in the May 3 primary election before he was indicted in early February. The screening committee gave him a “highly recommended” designation Jan. 20 and he was indicted Feb. 9.

“Per the bylaws in my opinion, yes, we need to vote, he applied for the process of endorsement,” Hall said.

Hall still maintains Reynolds should step down, but the party has spoken.

“Our endorsement allows our committee to make an independent decision. That’s what it is for,” he told the Journal-News. “Turnout was a bit light last night and it was by one vote, but Roger earned the endorsement of the party. That’s the bottom line”

Reynolds was indicted on three felony and two misdemeanor counts of bribery and using his public office for personal gain. If he is found guilty he faces up to 7 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. His trial is set for Aug. 15.

ExploreDocuments appear to debunk $200K Butler County auditor consulting fee solicitation

County Treasurer Nancy Nix pulled petitions to run for Reynolds’ seat at the end of January, before the indictments were handed down because she said she needed to be the “back-up plan” if Reynolds was forced from office. She had a change of heart and never filed the petitions.

She said she still feels the same way about the situation after the vote.

“Overall I feel every person deserves their day in court,” Nix said. “That seems to be a truism not just for our party but our country. So that’s mainly what I hear from people, let the trial take place and the facts will come out. He could get the endorsement because he was highly recommended by the screening committee.”

Sheriff Richard Jones’ office began investigating Reynolds last summer after receiving some complaints about his development dealings. The state Bureau of Criminal Investigations also joined the probe and now Attorney General Dave Yost’s office is handling the prosecution.

Jones said he wasn’t shocked the party supported Reynolds.

“Not really surprised, I had no idea how they would vote, whether they would vote to endorse or not endorse, none of that surprised me either way, but it is disappointing,” Jones said. “He should resign immediately with an endorsement or without an endorsement. He’s got a trial in August, he’s charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors and that does not go away.”

Reynolds had a challenger up until two weeks ago when West Chester Twp. Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones dropped out. Jones told the Journal-New he dropped out because “Roger’s indictment is already divisive enough and my candidacy was proving to divide the party even more.”

Reynolds will have a Democratic opponent in November as long as Dave Spurrier collects 50 write-in votes in the primary. Butler County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Hester said they will have no problem culling the write-ins and pointed to the fact Johnny Hamilton got 2,514 write-in votes for the 51st House District in the 2020 general election against Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers.

He said the Reynolds endorsement is proof the Butler County GOP is in “disarray.”

“It’s not every day that a county party endorses an indicted office holder whose party chair called on to resign,” Hester said. “But there clearly is some disarray in the Republican Party over this case. As somebody sitting on the outside, I don’t know whom to believe... The sheriff says Roger Reynolds is corrupt; Roger says he’s being basically set up by the sheriff’s office.”

The Journal-News reached out to a number of prominent county Republicans but they could not be reached for comment. County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter, who is also GOP-endorsed and running unopposed in May, did.

“As all of the issues that are in court play out, that’s independent of us,” Carpenter said. “We’re going to continue to work with him, that’s really the only position we have in the commissioners’ office. Politics don’t play a role in our day-to-day financial operations of county government.”

ExploreRoad to Butler County auditor’s legal troubles complex

About the Author