In response to an email from Mayor Mike Ebert, the Ohio Secretary of State's Office has said a Canal Winchester City Council member's actions during his November campaign did not make all council races partisan ones.
Chuck Milliken, one of the three top vote-getters in a five-person race in November, has faced calls to resign after federal investigators said he violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from participating in certain partisan political activities.
Federal investigators said the November campaign did become partisan for Milliken, a U.S. Postal Service carrier, because he sought and received an endorsement from the Franklin County Republican Party. However, they concluded he did not knowingly violate the federal law and since have closed the case.
The race itself remained nonpartisan, according to Dave Ward, director of constituent affairs in the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.
"A nonpartisan race only means there's no party primary nomination for that seat," Ward wrote in an email response to Ebert that was included as part of council's communications and petitions at its May 18 meeting. "There is a difference between an independent candidate who attests to not having a party affiliation versus (a) nonpartisan race," Ward wrote. "In the latter case, parties can, and often do, endorse candidates in those races, but that doesn't change the fact that the race itself is nonpartisan."
Milliken has rejected calls to resign, calling them "nothing more than a political ploy from a political minority of people" during council's May 4 meeting.