Assistant director ousted by State Board of Elections files whistleblower lawsuit

11/30/2017 01:35 PM

The former assistant director of the State Board of Elections has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the board, saying his termination came after raising concerns about potential wrongdoing by officials in the secretary of state’s office.

In his 27-page lawsuit filed Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court, Matt Selph largely reiterated points he made in a letter to members of the State Board of Elections and in a complaint to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

He says his Oct. 24 termination came after the commission received his ethics complaint and began investigating his allegations.

Grimes’ office dismissed Selph’s claims as “baseless and politically motivated” and said they would fight the allegations in court.

In the filing, Selph says Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office pushed a $150,000 sole-source contract for an elections security audit by CyberScout without approval from the State Board of Elections, saying he agreed with the opinion of technical developers “that CyberScout did not have any experience whatsoever in elections.”

Selph based that opinion on a meeting with a member of CyberScout tasked with examining electronic pollbooks, who said he “had never seen an electronic pollbook and had only recently learned about electronic pollbooks when he was assigned to coordinate the project” and “acknowledged that he did not have any prior election experience and that his background was in finance,” according to the lawsuit.

Selph also alleges that the company was not authorized to do business in the state until June 6, about two weeks after the contract was executed May 23.

The ousted assistant director also says in the lawsuit that officials in Grimes’ office were given administrative access to the state’s voter registration system and logged into the system 56 times from March through October and that registration data was given to Grimes’ office by a senior developer “several times, and, every time to Secretary of State was running for office.”

Selph said in the filing that Grimes’ campaign paid once for the data, which would have been delivered with limited personal information on a disk. Sensitive information like Social Security and driver’s license numbers are included in the voter registration system, but Selph said in his lawsuit that once information is pulled from the database “there was no way to ensure the security of confidential voter registration for Kentucky’s approximately 3.2 million voters.”

Grimes’ office vehemently denied the allegations raised by Selph, who is represented by attorneys Mark Wohlander, Thomas Clay and Mary Lauren Melton.

“The State Board of Elections will vigorously defend this suit,” Bradford Queen, Grimes’ communications director, said in a statement. “The executive director and assistant to the director are political appointees and serve at its pleasure. The Board determined it was time for a new direction in leadership for the protection of its employees and the betterment of the agency.”

Grimes chairs the State Board of Elections.

Selph is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, legal fees and a jury trial, according to the lawsuit.


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