Brunner to give deposition on Wipert case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

COLUMBUS — It isn’t every day an Ironton lawyer gets a chance to face off against a sitting state official and ask that officeholder about potential abuse of discretion.

But it will happen today.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will give a deposition to Ironton attorney Brigham Anderson in the case against her filed by the Lawrence County Republican Party.

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Earlier this year, the local GOP nominated former elections director Mary

Wipert to serve on the board of elections, replacing the outgoing Richard Meyers.

Brunner rejected the nomination, calling Wipert “incompetent” and “unfit” for the post. Anderson, who represents the GOP, said Brunner will be asked why.

“I feel we have a strong case,” Anderson said. “I feel the Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner abused her powers of discretion on this matter.”

The deposition, to be conducted at the secretary of state’s office, is expected to take a couple of hours.

“There is a vast amount of information,” Anderson said.

Anderson said at this point Brunner is the only one being deposed. But depending on what she says others may be called to give depositions in the future.

Wipert, who is treasurer of the county’s Republican Central Committee, will make the trip to Columbus but Anderson said he does not know if she will be allowed to sit in on the deposition. Usually, only parties to the lawsuit are allowed to witness the proceedings. However, in this case, Wipert is the person being discussed and is a county Republican Party official.

Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Brunner, said the secretary of state “plans to cooperate fully with this legal process.”

Anderson said after depositions are performed, the Ohio Supreme Court will likely issue a scheduling order and from there, both sides in the lawsuit will know how to proceed from there.

Anderson filed the lawsuit Feb. 28 with the Ohio Supreme Court, days after Brunner rejected Wipert’s nomination. Wipert had been board of elections director for more than 20 years until spring 2007, when the county elections board voted 3-1 to fire her. No reason was ever given for the termination.