DeWine and Husted get $894,192 in support from Ohio Republican Party in first half of 2021.
Written by: Jack Windsor August 2, 2021 COLUMBUS, Ohio –
The Ohio Republican Party (ORP) gave the DeWine and Husted for Ohio fund $500,000 and reported it on July 29 according to campaign finance reports posted to the Ohio Secretary of State website. The Ohio GOP also paid $394,192 of bills for the fund – payroll, credit card charges, phone bills, digital consulting, accounting services, and more – through in-kind contributions.
That means, in total, the ORP has bankrolled DeWine and Husted $894,192 in 2021 for the duo’s ’22 gubernatorial bid – but we’re only halfway through the year.“ The $500,000 is from the state candidate fund – statutorily created account,” said an ORP spokesperson by text message. The aide said that money from the account is allocated “to support statewide candidates and for [the Ohio] general assembly.
”Mike DeWine has not yet been endorsed by the ORP, which raised questions for GOP State Central Committee (SCC) Members who talked confidentially with The Ohio Press Network (OPN).“First, the bylaws are a mess,” said one member, referencing a discussion among members during the State Central Committee June meeting.
During that session Chairman Paduchik said the committee charged with cleaning up the bylaws, the Permanent Rules Committee, had “a lot of work” ahead of them – correcting everything from minor spelling errors in the written document to ensuring that business conducted by the state party followed the group’s self-governing laws.
Another member told OPN “when a candidate is endorsed, which is not the case here [with DeWine], the party can spend money. It appears, according to bylaws, the contributions are supposed to come only after the blessing of the fiscal review committee.”
According to the ORP Permanent Rules (bylaws) the Fiscal Review Committee shall consider and appoint the budget, pass upon recommendations to the Chairman as to staff salaries, AUTHORIZE EXPENDITURES (emphasis added) and arrange for the collection of funds.“
Nothing was done to authorize contributions during the June meeting. It appears this was done by executive leadership with the consent of the treasurer,” said a third member.
The contribution raised a red flag for DeWine gubernatorial challenger Jim Renacci– Ohio businessman and former U.S. Representative. Saturday morning Renacci posted to Facebook: “Did Ohio’s GOP State Central Committee vote to endorse Mike DeWine or did leadership just take your donations and write him a $500,000 check last week? The corruption continues and I will end it DAY ONE when you elect me as your Governor. The Columbus swamp is alive and thriving!”
In February, the ORP elected Bob Paduchik chairman. During that February meeting, then-Candidate Paduchik stood and talked to the SCC before the group cast votes to elect the next GOP boss – a two-man race between Paduchik and former Ohio State Rep John Becker. In his speech, Paduchik addressed a hot-button issue for Ohio Republicans: the state party endorsing candidates in the primary instead of allowing Ohio Republican voters to decide without the party’s influence. Paduchik said, “I do not have an opinion on that [ORP primary endorsements] for the committee. That is the committee’s decision to make. Sometimes a leader should lead and sometimes a leader should follow, and I think when it comes to endorsements by the State Central Committee, the chairman should follow. I will commit to you, however, that any time we approach those issues, those will be done in a fair and transparent manner. I see that as the role of the chairman – to ensure that these things are done fairly and transparently as we move forward.”
OPN asked the ORP spokesperson to square the $500k given to DeWine and Husted with Paduchik’s campaign speech. No response was given to that question. When asked, however, who approved the release of the funds, the ORP aide offered to look into the matter and report back. The questions and scrutiny about how the Ohio Republican Party is spreading money arise against the backdrop of criticism that the GOP is not auditing its financial statements consistent with accounting industry and government regulatory standards.
Another Ohio news agency reported that the ORP erased $1.7 million from its balance sheet in 2017 and then wrote off another $640,000 in 2021. Those issues prompted the first complete financial audit conducted by the state party in 16 years. That investigation, however, is not without controversy. The same news outlet reported that there are financial questions spanning 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, however, the 2021 audit is purportedly covering only 2019 and 2020.
A State Central Committee member reported to OPN that Chairman Paduchik told members that he requested the firm conducting the audit, Clifton Larson Allen (CLA), to include 2017 and 2018 in the audit but SCC members allege they investigated that claim and state that CLA is examining only 2019 and 2020. One longtime ORP donor said in an email to OPN “They never stop asking for money but are unable to keep track of where it goes once we send it to them. Then they send nearly $1 million to a governor candidate that’s not even ‘endorsed.’” The Republican benefactor turned over the email solicitation listed below. This is a developing story._ _ _
Jack Windsor is Editor-in-Chief of The Ohio Press Network (OPN). Jack is also a Statehouse correspondent for WHK AM1420 in Cleveland. Follow Jack on Twitter @jackwindsor. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Categories: State of Ohio