County Democratic Party, former chairman, scheduled to go before Superior Court

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A case involving the Washington County Democratic Party and its former chairman is scheduled for argument today in Pittsburgh before a panel of Superior Court judges.


Milan Marinkovich appealed a 2011 order of Washington County Judge John DiSalle requiring him to return or reproduce Democratic committee financial records from Jan. 1, 2002, through Jan. 31, 2008. A news story from 2011 reported the committee recovered two computers, a committee checkbook and extra checks, deposit slips, a stamp and one bank statement. Marinkovich maintained it was his practice to destroy all bank records.


DiSalle called Marinkovich’s admitted failure to maintain the financial records “a breach of his fiduciary duty to the committee and a violation of the (state) Election Code.” He cited a state Supreme Court decision that specifies officers of political parties are “public officials” subject to judicial supervision.


Marinkovich, a Monongahela area resident, is being represented by Washington attorney Charles Kurowski, who first filed an appeal with Commonwealth Court. The case then landed in Superior Court.


Marinkovich has claimed DiSalle’s ruling against him was politically motivated because Marinkovich actively campaigned against DiSalle when he ran for judge in 2005. Marinkovich also wants the appellate court to set aside DiSalle’s order to schedule another hearing date for the matter to assess compliance and determine special damage claims, according to an order in the court’s online docket.


The legal battle has its roots in the controversial election of a party leader in 2006. After a long court battle, George Vitteck Jr. of Canton Township has since 2008 been at the helm of the Washington County Democratic Party. He is not seeking re-election as county chairman this year.


Representing the county Democratic Party is attorney Jim Jeffries, who said at least 15 cases are scheduled to be argued today in Superior Court before the local Democrats present their case.


Vitteck, in a recent letter to members of the Washington County Democratic Committee, set a Monday deadline for prospective chairmen or chairwomen to file a petition with him. The time, date and place of an election is to be annnounced.


Marinkovich was elected Democratic committeeman from Carroll Township’s 3rd precinct May 20 by a 50-vote margin over Alexander Ferguso despite an internal determination nearly three years ago that he be disqualified from continuing to be a member of the committee.


Although he is not seeking the county party’s top post, Vitteck was elected Democratic committeeman from his home precinct of Canton 3 with 95.9 percent of the vote.


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