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Fired Elections Staffer Alleges Improper Voter Data Access

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Kentucky State Board of Elections
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A former Kentucky State Board of Elections staff member says his termination this week was in retaliation for accusing the Secretary of State's Office of improperly gathering voter information during campaigns.

Matthew Stelph, the state board's assistant to the director, was fired Tuesday along with executive director Maryellen Allen. The Republican wrote a 17-page letter to four of six board members Oct. 21 alleging that Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, granted staff improper access to the voter registration system, The Lexington Herald Leader reported .

Steph alleged that Grimes had only paid the $450 fee to access voter information once, despite running two campaigns. He also said that more than five Secretary of State staffers were given administrative access to the system, equipping them with the ability to make changes.

Selph also levied several accusations of Grimes' office exerting undue authority over the staff of state board of elections, an independent, bipartisan organization. He said Grimes approved a $150,000 contract for consulting services with an outside agency, taking that step without the board's approval and against the wishes of board staff. He said he was told the board voted on the contract in closed session.

Selph had previously filed a complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, which can't confirm ongoing investigations. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Director John Steffen, a former ethics commission executive director, said he urged Selph to take his concerns to the ethics commission.

Grimes' communications director, Bradford Queen, didn't comment on the letter, and Queen said the board's decision to terminate Selph and Allen's employment didn't include Grimes' vote. Grimes, who chairs the board, has said the decision was bipartisan and the staff members' services were no longer needed.

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