Butler County treasurer pulls petitions to run for auditor as ‘backup’ if current one sidelined by criminal probe

Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix pulled petitions Friday for the Butler County Auditor's...
Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix pulled petitions Friday for the Butler County Auditor's Office. Her longtime colleague and friend, Auditor Roger Reynolds, turned his petitions in Jan. 14, according to the Butler County Board of Elections.(Provided)
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:01 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:10 PM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Butler County Nancy Nix said she pulled petitions Friday to run for auditor against her longtime friend and colleague, fellow Republican Roger Reynolds, in the May 3 primary as the “backup” if he drops out due to an ongoing criminal investigation and legal troubles.

“If it’s a backup, if he is going to step down, we want someone competent, a professional, to take over. If he gets indicted, we need somebody to fill that office,” Nix said.

“He’s got ethical and criminal and civil issues to get through. I don’t think anybody knows anything at this point in time. We’ll see how things play out. It’s a sad situation, actually.”

Nix said made the decision to file this week. She said she kept getting calls and was encouraged to do it by people who are concerned about the potential for the auditor’s office to be “vulnerable.”

“I would say some county officeholders and some (Butler County GOP) party colleagues - I don’t want to say party leadership - I would say party friends and some county officials but I won’t say who,” she said.

Nix, 53, of Liberty Township, has been the county treasurer since 2007 and was re-elected in 2020.

She plans to file 100 signatures of registered Republican or Independent voters by Wednesday, double the required amount.

Reynolds pulled his petitions back in November and filed them Jan. 14, according to Diane Noonan, director of the Butler County Board of Elections.

Reynolds, 52, also of Liberty Township, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

We also left messages with him and his attorney earlier this week about running for re-election amid the criminal investigation but did not hear back.

“He’s convinced he will be vindicated. He doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong,” Nix said.

A special prosecutor appointed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in September, has been overseeing the probe.

It’s being conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Butler County Sheriff’s Office. The Ohio Ethics Commission also is involved.

The sheriff’s office began investigating in late August after FOX19 NOW reported Reynolds, county auditor since April 2008 was seeking - at times using his county elected office email account - more than $1 million in public money for road improvements on Hamilton Mason Road as he facilitated the sale of his parents’ property into a $20 million senior residential complex.

We also reported an 87-year-old landowner on Hamilton Mason Road who has lived next door to Reynolds’ parents for decades, his daughter and attorney claimed in an interview with us that Reynolds tried to buy some of his property for well below fair market value or he would be landlocked.

At the time, the landowner’s wife was terminally ill with cancer.

In late September, the landowner, Gerald Parks, his family trust and his daughter all sued Reynolds in his professional and personal capacities, among others.

The suit accuses him of bribery, extortion, ethics violations and tortious interference.

Reynolds has denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

When the lawsuit was filed, he gave us a statement that described Parks’ allegations as “absurd.”

Authorities have not said if any of the accusations in the lawsuit are part of the criminal investigation.

The sheriff’s office is aware of it and has interviewed “lots of people,” is all Sheriff Richard Jones will say.

Nix said she notified Reynolds she was going to pull the petitions. Their offices have worked closely together for years.

“We are partners. We are the financial arm of the county The treasurer collects the property taxes invests funds and acts as the county’s bank. The auditor is the chief financial officer, the appraiser, the person in charge of dog tags, weights and measures, it’s about two-and-a-half times the number of employees.

“We are friends and we have worked together for 14-plus years. We are both CPAs, we are the same age. Our offices work seamlessly together. We’ve been fiscal conservatives since Day One. I don’t wish him harm. I don’t wish him out of a job, but this is a very critical position in Butler County, being the chief financial officer, and we need to have a knowledgeable professional in that office. I think he understands. He knows the game. I am still in my early 50s and I’m not ready to think of retirement yet.”

She said is not running to be a placeholder for Reynolds.

“I see it as protecting Butler County taxpayers and the office. I don’t see it as protecting the current occupant of the office. There’s no shenanigans. There is no deal. I have not told Roger ‘I am going to protect you.’ I want Butler County to have a good, trusted office holder in place.

“We really don’t know if there will be any charges brought forward. No, I would not call myself a placeholder. It’s just a really poorly timed issue, just the timing of the publicity and his having to run for office with this cloud and then the election in May and the election in November and when does it all get sorted out?

“Who knows if we’ll know anything by May. Hopefully, we will.”

Yost told FOX19 NOW late last year he expected the investigation to wrap up early this year.

Butler County Chief Deputy Tony Dwyer said this week the allegations in this investigation span several years and there’s a lot of information to process.

“We’re continuing to work with BCI Agents and the Special Prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office and the investigation is still open and active,” he said.

We also reached out to a BCI spokesman earlier this week for an update on the investigation and to see if the special prosecutor has decided whether or not to present any findings or evidence to a grand jury.

“We do not have any additional information to share regarding the ongoing investigation,” BCI spokesman Steve Irwin responded. “I cannot comment on matters involving grand juries.”

An investigation is underway into a potential conflict of interest by Butler County’s longtime...
An investigation is underway into a potential conflict of interest by Butler County’s longtime auditor, Roger Reynolds, Sheriff Richard Jones confirmed on Monday, Aug. 27, 2021.(Provided/file)

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