Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Dave Kern resigned Tuesday as executive chairman of the Butler County Republican Party, citing frustration with infighting.
“Unfortunately there is and always is within any party infighting and bickering and I’ve had enough of it,” Kern told The Enquirer.
Party members have criticized Kern, accusing him of keeping the party’s failing finances secret. Party Treasurer Nancy Nix aimed to resign in August, saying the party was coming so close to being unable to meet its bills and that she couldn’t ethically be part of that as the county treasurer and a certified public accountant.
But she stayed on until the party could find a replacement. That hasn’t happened yet.
Kern moved the GOP’s headquarters out of Bridgewater Falls Shopping Center in Fairfield Township to streamline the organization.
Kern said his term began with a “fiscally challenged and over-committed party” and that he “tried to guide the party into living within its means.”
Kern, a tea party activist and longtime Liberty Township trustee, has led the divided county party since 2010 when the central committee ousted Tom Ellis, who served as executive chairman for four years.
Kern’s selection came with the backing of House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester Township and then-Ohio Senator Gary Cates, who accused Ellis of too much secrecy with GOP finances, overpriced Lincoln Day dinners that prohibit some members from attending, and a failure to lend financial support to local Republican candidates.
Kern told The Enquirer he will retain his position on the Butler County Republican Party central committee but plans to step down in February from his seat on the Butler County Board of Elections where he recently stirred up controversy over spending that led to an attempt by Democratic members to boot him off the board.
Kern had questioned the election positions held by Republican Commissioner Don Dixon’s son, Brent, and Democrat Garry Hicks. Kern alleged the men should not be paid full time benefits because they did not work the hours. Combined, the two received about $200,000 in county-paid contributions toward their medical and dental insurance over 22 years. They each were paid $8,000 a year and had received raises last year of 14 percent, amounting to about $1,000 apiece.