Board of Elections replaces recently fired exective director, assistant director

11/22/2017 10:46 AM

The State Board of Elections has hired replacements for two staffers fired last month, one of whom raised possible ethics violations against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

The board voted 4-1, with one abstention, to hire Jared Smelser-Dearing as its new executive director and Jennifer Scutchfield as its new assistant director on Tuesday.

Smelser-Dearing serves as a legislative aide for the Louisville Metro Council and on the boards for the Louisville Coalition for the Homeless and the city’s Citizens Commission on Police Accountability while Scutchfield, an attorney, is a councilwoman for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. They’re set to start their new jobs Dec. 1.

Grimes declined to take questions after the board’s vote on Tuesday, but she praised both hires in a statement sent after the meeting. She said the two “bring years of valuable experience in government to the State Board of Elections.”

“Jared’s background in technology will be a great asset to the Board as Kentucky moves to bring electronic poll books to the Commonwealth in the coming year,” Grimes said. “And Jennifer’s impressive career in the law will be a tremendous strength as the Board implements the many federal and state laws relating to the administration of elections.”

They replace former Executive Director Maryellen Allen and Assistant Director Matthew Selph, who were fired Oct. 24.

Selph, who has said he may take legal action, has accused Grimes, who chairs the board, of essentially making the Board of Elections an extension of her office, saying her office improperly accessed voter data and authorized contracts without approval of the board.

Grimes’ office denied Selph’s allegations and noted that she did not vote on the motion to terminate his and Allen’s employment.

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