CLEVELAND, Ohio – Embattled Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers continues to head the governing body overseeing the taxpayer-funded Global Center for Health Innovation, despite facing ethical and criminal questions related to his own tax issues.
Sellers’ official term on the Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corporation (CCCFDC) Board ended April 17, but the body’s bylaws show he can continue to hold the seat until County Executive Armond Budish decides to recommend him for a second term or appoint someone else.
At the board’s quarterly meeting on Friday, Sellers shared a slide showing each of the board members’ term lengths, including his own. Rather than his term ending this year, though, the slide indicated he had been reappointed to serve through April 2025.
County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan denied it was true, saying “no appointment has been made.” She declined to say whether Budish intended to recommend Sellers for the position at a future date.
That came as a surprise to CCCFDC Attorney Jeff Appelbaum, who said he believes Budish already has the recommendation form and anticipates that it will be signed. It will then go before the board for a vote, which Appelbaum said he expects would also be favorable.
In the meantime, the CCCFDC’s bylaws provide for Sellers to not only remain in his seat but retain his title as president, “until their successors are appointed and qualify,” Appelbaum said.
Cleveland.com reached out to Sellers and Vice President Majeed Makhlouf for comment.
Madigan declined to answer questions about whether Budish – through action or inaction – supports having Sellers on the board while the Ohio Ethics Commission is investigating allegations that he used his position as mayor to grant himself a tax abatement and signed a notarized document claiming to be debt -Free while owing thousands of dollars in unpaid property taxes.
The information came to light as part of a cleveland.com investigation as Sellers was running for Cuyahoga County Executive. He dropped out of the race the next day, saying “recent reports have now become a distraction…”
The next month, County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley referred the case to the commission for review of potential violations and recommended criminal charges. Once received, it would be up to the prosecutor’s office to act on those recommendations.
The commission previously issued an advisory opinion on a similar matter in which it warned that government officials are prohibited from profiting from tax abatements while they serve in office and within one year after leaving their post. Violations could be charged as fourth-degree felonies, it said.