Sandra Kurt, Chair
Summit County Democratic Party
DEMOCRATIC PARTY CALLS ON OHIO ETHICS COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER STOW CLERK OF COURTS KEVIN COUGHLIN UNLAWFULLY ISSUED A PUBLIC CONTRACT TO A BUSINESS
For Immediate Release
September 29, 2015 – Stow, OH – Officials at The Summit County Democratic Party have formally requested that the Ohio Ethics Commission conduct an investigation into whether Stow Clerk of Courts Kevin Coughlin unlawfully issued a public contract to his business associate, David Stofka. Ohio Revised Code section 2921.42 explicitly prohibits public officials from knowingly entering into a public contract in which the official or any of the official’s business associates has an interest.
The contract in question, in which Coughlin authorized a $5,437.50 payment from the Court’s Technology Fund to Stofka’s company, Stofka Creative, was for web design services. No other company was allowed to bid for the work and Coughlin’s initials appear on the actual invoice, dated April 6, 2014.
The two men have been publically engaged in a close working relationship for some time. In May, Democratic officials conducted an online investigation and found that Coughlin’s company, Lexington Companies, listed both Coughlin and Stofka as employees and the only members of its “Team.” A website called Zoom Information also listed Lexington under Stofka’s employment history. Additionally, Lexington’s website stated that “Stofka Creative Ltd is the official web design and development partner of Lexington Companies.” The same verbiage appeared on Zoom Information.
Campaign finance reports show that at the same time Coughlin was dealing with Stofka through the Clerk’s office, Stofka Creative was paid a total of $575 for similar services by Coughlin’s campaign committee. Stofka was also previously employed by Coughlin’s Senate campaign, and official Court documents reveal that Stofka’s sister is currently employed by Coughlin in the Clerk’s office. Stofka has been a campaign treasurer for Coughlin in the past and was a circulator for Coughlin’s most recent nominating petition. “The public trust is sacred,” said Summit County Democratic Party Acting Chair Sandra Kurt. “When an elected official blatantly violates it so that his buddy can profit, it is not only unethical and deeply offensive, but it creates the perception that public servants are really private profiteers in disguise.”
Democratic candidate and former Stow Clerk of Courts Diana Colavecchio is running to retake the seat from Coughlin in the November election on a platform of accountability and anti-cronyism.
“Both of Diana’s opponents have been embroiled in scandals leading up to this election,” Kurt said. “The citizens of the Stow Court district need Diana to clean up the cronyism in the Clerk of Courts office and restore the public’s confidence.”