While two trustees are up for re-election this fall, drama between Orange Township's two other elected officials threatens to overshadow the race.
Orange Township Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer on Sept. 20 filed suit in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas against Trustee Lisa Knapp and two other township residents, claiming they engaged in a conspiracy to defame and harass him. Spitzer requested the court consider awarding him damages in excess of $1 million.
Spitzer's suit claims Knapp "began a concerted effort to 'destroy' other elected officials" after she took office in 2012. It also claims Knapp "has been the mastermind behind a campaign to disparage the character and integrity of (Spitzer)."
Much of Spitzer's suit focuses on Knapp's blog, social-media and online-video posts, which the fiscal officer claims are full of false and misleading information about him. The suit claims Knapp and others have engaged in an intimidation campaign designed to push Spitzer to resign.
Spitzer is a frequent topic of Knapp's online posts.
In a 2013 post on her blog, Knapp claimed it's Spitzer who has been leading a harassment campaign against her, "assisted by Trustees Rob Quigley and Debbie Taranto."
In a Sept. 14 Facebook post, Knapp wrote Spitzer engaged in "angry, aggressive, & shady public behavior" and "could use some anger management classes."
Knapp also repeatedly has claimed in Facebook posts Spitzer has denied her township financial records or provided her with incomplete documents.
Knapp said she believes Spitzer filed the lawsuit "to get me to shut up."
"That is a frivolous lawsuit that's simply designed to harass me," she said.
Knapp said she thinks the suit is tailored to hamper her investigation into the township's finances.
Spitzer's suit also names township residents Todd Daviso and Susan Tobias as defendants. The suit claims Daviso and Tobias have joined in "false and defamatory" conversations on Knapp's social-media accounts.
Spitzer's suit claims the defendants have made and shared misleading posts "in order to make (him) look unhinged, untrustworthy, unable to serve the public, and incompetent."
Knapp said Tobias is a friend but denied Tobias and Daviso were involved in a conspiracy against Spitzer. She said she has never met Daviso in person.
Knapp said she is "extremely outraged" by Spitzer's decision to name Daviso and Tobias as defendants. She said Spitzer is attempting to stop township residents from asking questions about their elected officials.
"That was a hit-below-the-belt tactic," she said.
The suit claims Knapp has "encouraged" others to harass Spitzer and his friends and family members. It also claims she has contacted Spitzer's current and past legal clients to encourage them to drop him as an attorney.
In addition, Spitzer has filed to request a temporary restraining order, asking the court to prevent any of the defendants from threatening Spitzer, his family or his staff. The motion also requests an order preventing the defendants from posting "any disparaging, misleading (or) libelous" statements online.
Knapp said she does not plan to stop posting on social media after consulting with an attorney.
"I have the legal right to make people aware of what's going on in our township," she said.
Spitzer's attorney did not return a call seeking comment.