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Fired Miami County election official sues for defamation, wants job back

TROY – A former deputy director of the Miami County Board of Elections fired in January 2017 is suing the elections board and a former member, claiming violations of open meetings laws and defamation.

Eric Morgan of Tipp City filed the complaint in county Common Pleas Court. He seeks a court order invalidating the board’s vote to terminate him from the position, a return to the position and damages in excess of $25,000 from the board.

The lawsuit alleges the elections board violated Ohio’s public meetings law. The violations allegedly took place in January 2017 to discuss Morgan in a claimed undisclosed meeting and at least one other executive session at which the suit claims the topic of discussion was not disclosed publicly as required.

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The failure to follow the meetings law should invalidate the board action, returning him to his former position, Morgan and his lawyer argue in the complaint.

Morgan also requests from former board member Dean Tamplin of Tipp City compensatory and punitive damages of more than $25,000 each as a result of alleged defamation. Tamplin and Morgan are both Democrats.

Morgan alleges he was asked by Tamplin to support Tamplin’s continued work on the board in 2017, but Morgan refused to say if he would. A few days later, on Jan. 24, 2017, he claims the board met in a special meeting, where Tamplin allegedly asked him to resign. When he refused, he was subsequently terminated from the job, Morgan claims.

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He claims he was defamed when Tamplin “made statements to the press and other members of the (elections) board that the Democratic Party ‘lost confidence’ in Morgan and that was the reason for his termination,” the lawsuit contends. Morgan claims the statement was harmful to his reputation and his career as an election official.

Tamplin did not respond to a request for comment. The board of elections staff said both the elections director and deputy director were not available for comment.

Morgan was hired as the deputy director in March 2013.

At the time of his termination, the board had two Republican members and one Democrat with the December 2016 retirement of board member Kelly Gillis, a Democrat. The Republican board members were Ryan King of Piqua and Jose Lopez of West Milton.

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