Changes at Montgomery County Voter Services drew more criticism Thursday after questions were raised about the political activities of the interim director and a member of the oversight team.
Last month, the county commissioners fired the longtime director, Joe Passarella. On April 18, they appointed the county archivist, Michael J. Paston, interim director and asked chief operating officer Lauren Lambrugo and assistant solicitor David Robinson to oversee the office until a permanent director is found.
The county Republican Party has accused the commissioners of "partisan cronyism," most recently pointing out that Robinson has a political action committee with Paston as its chairman.
According to state election records circulated by the GOP, Friends of David Robinson was formed in July, when he was exploring a run for the legislature. The Democrats backed Madeleine Dean, and Robinson never formally declared his candidacy.
State records show that Paston was replaced as the PAC's chairman the day after he was appointed interim director.
Commissioner Leslie S. Richards, who chairs the Election Board, said she was informed of the PAC the day the commissioners appointed Paston.
"We notified David Robinson and he made the changes necessary," Richards said, adding, "I think he acted as quickly as possible."
Montgomery County's ethics code allows employees to engage in political activity as long as it's off the clock and "does not conflict or interfere with the performance of his/her duties."
In Philadelphia, municipal employees are not allowed to engage in political activity.
State law also regulates government workers' political activities and discourages the appearance of conflict of interest.
Republican Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. said he was unaware of Robinson's PAC until reporters asked about it Thursday.
Just an hour earlier, during the commissioners' meeting, Castor gave an uncharacteristic scripted statement in which he disputed reports that he supported Passarella's firing but did not say he opposed it.
County Communications Director Frank Custer said the commissioners moved Thursday to remove Robinson from his advisory role in the Voter Services office to "remove any distraction that might get in the way of us putting on a flawless election."