Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
Huron mayor orders police seize local activist as she speaks before council about officials’...
May 15, 2019
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Huron, OH — The Chandra Law Firm LLC's investigation into retaliation by Huron Mayor Brad Hartung and other city officials against civic activist Stacy Hinners for speaking out about government misconduct has uncovered a disturbing new revelation of broader efforts by Huron officials to retaliate against the Hinnerses for their efforts at exposing government misconduct. A Catholic priest reports that Huron Councilman Glen Ginesi contacted him to oppose Ms. Hinners's husband Jason Hinners being ordained as a church deacon because Mr. Hinners criticized the government—and asked the priest to intervene with Mr. Hinners.
In a sworn affidavit, Father Jeffrey McBeth testfies:
At some time in April 2019, Huron City Councilman Glen Ginesi approached me shortly before a city council meeting. He asked for a moment of time to express his concerns about Mr. Hinners, who is currently in formation to become a deacon in the Church.
Councilman Ginesi told me that as a member of council, he felt Mr. Hinners was attacking him personally by causing problems at city council meetings and criticizing the government for a perceived lack of transparency.
Councilman Ginesi felt that Mr. Hinners was acting in a non-Christian way when he criticized council and said he was “bewildered” to learn that Mr. Hinners was under consideration for the diaconate or any prominent leadership role within the Church.
Councilman Ginesi asked me if I could be “part of some solution” to his disputes with Mr. Hinners over issues at City Council. I was hesitant about disclosing what Mr. Ginesi might consider a confidential communication, but Mr. Ginesi told me to “tell him you heard it from me.”
I have separately reached out to Chief Bob Lippert about the charges against Ms. Hinners and received a voicemail message from saying him that he could not yet discuss the case with me but expected that he would need to pull me in at some point to help resolve it.
The affidavit, signed under oath, can be seen here.
Subodh Chandra, the Hinners family's attorney, wrote Erie County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Baxter today, asking Baxter to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mayor Hartung and Councilman Ginesi, as well as others, for potentially criminal efforts to retaliate against the Hinnerses.
Father McBeth's affidavit was cited and enclosed in Chandra's letter.
Chandra opined in the letter, "Councilman Ginesi’s effort to derail Mr. Hinners’s diaconate candidacy is one of the most brazen acts of First Amendment-retaliation—and attacks on the free-exercise of religion—imaginable."
On May 14, 2019, Huron’s mayor, Brad Hartung, ordered police officers to seize and forcibly eject community activist Stacy Hinners from a city council meeting five minutes after she used the meeting’s public-comment period to inform the audience that she and her husband had filed a lawsuit to stop city officials’ illegal conduct. The conduct included secret, backroom financial deals violating Ohio’s Open Meetings Act. On the council agenda that night were two measures to ratify the illegal acts.
In the May 28, 2019 Huron City Council meeting, Councilman Ginesi denied saying the things Father McBeth testifies Ginesi said. But Ginesi was not under oath at that moment—and did not know that Father McBeth had testified to Ginesi's statements under oath.
For more information about this case, click here.