State board of elections executive and assistant director terminated in closed door meeting

10/25/2017 05:20 PM

UPDATED FRANKFORT – The State Board of Elections is looking for new leadership after both Executive Director Mayellen Allen, a Democrat, and assistant director Matt Selph, a Republican, were terminated late Tuesday afternoon by its Board of Directors.

Neither members of the Board of Election of the Secretary of State are free to talk about personnel matters, however Selph, who was terminated on Tuesday did speak with Pure Politics.

“I feel my termination today is the result of a direct act of retaliation by the Kentucky Secretary of State for concerns I voiced during my tenure as assistant to the director of the State Board of Elections,” Selph said in a statement. “I have been given no reason or explanation for my termination. I was not afforded any opportunity to address any accusations.”

Selph is a retired Army 1st Sgt. with more than 20-years of experience with the Department of Defense, he was hired in 2014 to oversee the implementation of a new ballot delivery system for military and overseas voters. Being part of the military he is also accustom to following protocol, which includes taking detailed notes.

On October 21, he sent a 17 page letter, outlining all of his concerns to all members of the State Election Board of Directors, three days later he was fired. Grimes, the chair of the board, asserted that she has not received that letter as of Thursday morning.

In the letter, Selph claims the Secretary of State’s office has effectively strangled the State Board of Elections, essentially making it just another branch of the constitutional office.

Selph outlines eight separate issues in detail in which he alleges unauthorized access of voter information data, wasted or misused resources for website design and contracts issued without board approval.

In his statement to Pure Politics he says “other issues I raised included the possible abuse of power by the Secretary’s office in accessing voter databases.”

Selph went on the record with his concerns this summer with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission and he is considering legal action.

Grimes’ spokesperson Bradford Queen responded to the claims on Thursday evening in a statement saying Grimes has always obtained voter information in the same manner as any other duly qualified candidate.

“Candidates for office in Kentucky have a number of available alternatives to obtain voter data, including purchasing it from the State Board of Elections or receiving it from political parties,” Queen said. “As a result, in her capacity as a candidate, Secretary Grimes would have no reason to obtain voter data by other means.

“Mr. Selph’s allegations regarding the Commonwealth’s contract with CyberScout are in direct contradiction of the facts,” Queen continued. “Minutes from the Feb. 21, 2017, State Board of Elections meeting reflect that the Board took appropriate action to engage with the vendor. Further, neither the Secretary of State’s Office nor the Board of Elections awards contracts; the Finance and Administration Cabinet approves all contracts into which the Commonwealth enters, and did so in this case.”

Queen said that the vote of the Board of Elections to end the employment of Allen and Selph was “bipartisan and did not include the vote of Secretary Grimes.”

Reporting by Richard Essex

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