Luzerne County coun­cil mem­bers want in­ves­ti­ga­tion into elec­tion chief’s trips

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - LOCAL - BY ERIC MARK STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: [email protected]­i­ 570-821-2117

Two Luzerne County coun­cil mem­bers have called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into county elec­tion di­rec­tor Marisa Crispell’s ser­vice on the ad­vi­sory board of a county ven­dor and two ex­pens­e­s­paid trips she took to meet­ings the ven­dor spon­sored.

Crispell trav­eled to Las Ve­gas and Ne­braska last year for meet­ings of the Elec­tion Sys­tems & Soft­ware cus­tomer ad­vi­sory board. Her travel ex­penses were paid for by ES&S, which sup­plied the vot­ing ma­chines Luzerne County has used for more than 10 years, as well as an elec­tronic poll book sys­tem the county pur­chased this year for $324,802.

Crispell re­signed from the ad­vi­sory board in Oc­to­ber 2017, be­fore the county re­quested pro­pos­als for the poll book sys­tem from ven­dors. She did not dis­close her ser­vice on the board to county coun­cil be­fore it voted on the poll book pur­chase in April.

Coun­cil­man Ed­ward Bromin­ski, in an email sent Thurs­day to coun­cil, said he wants an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the two trips Crispell took last year. The clerk of coun­cil should pre­pare a re­quest to the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice and the FBI on be­half of coun­cil, Bromin­ski wrote.

Coun­cil­woman Linda McClosky Houck, in an email to coun­cil, said she “echoed” Bromin­ski’s re­quest for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She also echoed other coun­cil mem­bers’ re­marks that Crispell should have dis­closed her role on the ES&S ad­vi­sory board be­fore coun­cil voted to pur­chase the poll book sys­tem from the com­pany.

“That it should have been dis­closed to coun­cil prior to our vote on the pur­chase of the poll books is not a mat­ter of le­gal tech­ni­cal­ity; it is a mat­ter of com­mon sense,” Houck wrote.

Houck dis­puted Crispell’s con­tention that she did not need to dis­close her re­la­tion­ship with ES&S to coun­cil, since she in­formed the county elec­tion board and her su­per­vi­sor, county Di­rec­tor of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices David Parsnik.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion and the elec­tion board were not vot­ing on the pur­chase!” Houck wrote. “Coun­cil was, and we did so with­out full aware­ness of the in­volve­ment of the elec­tions di­rec­tor — on whose rec­om­men­da­tion the en­tire en­deavor was un­der­taken — with the com­pany that was awarded the con­tract.”

Houck asked for a dis­cus­sion of the is­sue to be added to the agenda for coun­cil’s Tues­day work ses­sion.

She dis­puted county Man­ager David Pedri’s con­tention that it is a per­son­nel mat­ter.

“It is not a per­son­nel is­sue at this point, as it deals with is­sues of ad­min­is­tra­tive ap­proval and dis­clo­sure to coun­cil rather than merely the be­hav­ior of one in­di­vid­ual,” Houck wrote.

Pedri and Crispell did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to mes­sages seek­ing com­ment.


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