County Council Members Want Probe Into Election Chief’s Trips
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 expenses-paid trips she took to meetings the vendor sponsored.
Crispell traveled to Las Vegas and Nebraska last year for meetings of the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) 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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