Tuesday, September 7, 2004

County GOPers to discuss Allen scandal, strategy

By Jennifer Edwards
Enquirer staff reporter

Some Republican Hamilton County elected officials will meet this week to talk about the status of Prosecutor Mike Allen and how his affair with an employee who has sued him and the board of county commissioners will affect the upcoming election.

Democrats said they plan to offer a write-in candidate for the prosecutor's office. The Democrats lost one prospect Monday after Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken abandoned the idea of running.

County GOP Chairman Mike Barrett was scheduled to meet Monday with Allen, but it was not clear Monday evening whether that occurred.

Neither returned calls Monday, and Barrett could not be reached at his office. Allen's lawyer, Michael Hawkins, said he didn't speak with Allen Monday.

Republican elected officials were scheduled to meet today to discuss the situation. But Monday, Hamilton County Clerk of Court Greg Hartmann said the meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday.

"We really haven't formulated a strategy," Hartmann said. "It's an extremely difficult situation. I don't know all the details of everything that occurred, but I don't see anything good coming out of this."

Meanwhile, clamor in the community is overwhelming for Allen to go, State Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, said.

"People are mad," he said Monday. "I can't tell you the abuse I get on the campaign trail on this one. The public mood is not wait and see at all. They have seen enough. They would like for some grand poo-bah to force him to resign. But he holds all the cards. We really don't hold the cards.

"The expectations do not match what we can actually do. We all want him gone," he said. "He's put us in a very bad situation - the taxpayers and the party. So we'll see what he decides. There's still time."

Allen, a Republican who once chaired the county GOP, is running unopposed this year, just as in 2000. The lack of opposition illustrates that Democrats saw no chance of winning an office held for decades by such influential Republicans as Sheriff Simon L. Leis Jr. and State Treasurer Joseph Deters.

But Allen, 48, a married father of two, became politically vulnerable last month when he admitted to a 31/2-year affair with an assistant prosecutor. Rebecca Collins, 33, sued Allen and the county, alleging that she was sexually harassed.

Allen insists that the affair was consensual and says he won't quit.

The deadline to file a write-in candidate is Monday. .

Brinkman, who is up for re-election in November, says the growing sex scandal is the topic everywhere he goes, from the campaign trail to the hardware store.

"I think I will be asking for a write-in ballot. I couldn't vote for him," Brinkman said. "He violated his own office rules. I feel I am held to a higher standard, and other elected officials should be held to a higher standard.

"Republicans are supposed to be different than this. We as a party have to be. We aren't the party of Bill Clinton."

Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich also has said he has "grave doubts" about voting for Allen in light of the affair and, if Allen were a county employee, he would fire him.

Heimlich and Brinkman say they are particularly upset that Allen wants taxpayers to pay for his legal defense and any judgment that should be issued against him.

Allen's lawyer said Monday that Allen is entitled to that under Ohio law and that other county officials in the past have exercised that right.

"Have they already judged that he's guilty?" Hawkins said. "They are all jumping the gun. That's the troubling thing. They should have all the facts before they make a judgment."


E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com

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