It was another bleak turn of events Thursday for Aftab Pureval, the one-time wonderboy of the Democrat Party who has been pulling in donations from Democrats nationwide.
The Ohio Elections Commission voted 6-1 Thursday in favor of launching a full investigation into Pureval for allegedly using his county-clerk campaign funds to pay for federal campaign expenses. He is running against incumbent Congressman Steve Chabot, (R-OH-1).
Ohio Elections Commission Executive Director Philip Richter said there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to proceed with the investigation.
Jessie Balmert first reported the story from the Cincinnati Enquirer :
Commission votes 6-1 to have another hearing looking into @AftabPureval expenses — whether he used local campaign money to pay for federal campaign expenses.
— Jessie Balmert (@jbalmert) September 20, 2018
A date for the hearing has yet to be announced.
If Pureval did use the county account for his federal race, such use could violate federal and state campaign finance laws. Violations of federal and state campaign finance laws can carry criminal penalties, including jail time.”
“As we’ve said all along, Aftab Pureval is a phony politician who thinks the rules don’t apply to him,” said Chris Martin of the National Republican Congressional Committee, or NRCC, in a statement posted on the committee’s website Thursday.
Pureval is under investigation for the alleged improper use of $30,000 from his County Clerk of Court’s account. This money appears to have been used for his congressional campaign. And the memo lines on the checks in question were blacked out so the public couldn’t get answers.
Were these checks indeed used for political purposes related to his congressional campaign? If the investigation finds they were, that’s a felony.
The complaint was originally brought by attorney Brian Shrive. It charges that Pureval spent over $16,000 donated by his mother to his local campaign fund, which was designated solely for his Hamilton County Clerk of Courts race, to pay for polling for his congressional race.
To make matters worse, someone at the Pureval campaign requested that employees of the Hamilton County Board of Elections redact the memo line of the checks in question. This makes it look like Pureval’s campaign was trying to hide from the public what he was using the local campaign funds for.
Pureval now says, “I didn’t know about the redaction and I didn’t authorize it.”
That comment indicates Pureval may be willing to sacrifice someone on his staff, perhaps even his campaign manager Sarah Topy, rather than shoulder blame for any irregularities.
Aftab Pureval explains: ‘I didn't know about the redaction and I didn't authorize it.' https://t.co/dfPAKbxRwo
— Sharon Coolidge (@SharonCoolidge) September 20, 2018
Below is a scan of the unredacted check, which clearly shows it was used for polling.
And now, campaign shows unredacted check. Again, “poll balance.” pic.twitter.com/OLc0kub91L
— Sharon Coolidge (@SharonCoolidge) September 19, 2018
Pureval has said the money in question was used to pay for clerk of court campaign expenses. But that leaves investigators with the obvious question: Why was Pureval paying for polling for his local clerk’s-office campaign more than two years before he was up for re-election? He had literally only been in office for a year and was already polling for his re-election, even though he had his eye on the congressional seat and not his local office? Apparently that is what Pureval expects everyone to believe.
Democrats will predictably be fine with that explanation, but the GOP definitely smells blood in the water.
“Once again, Aftab Pureval’s lies and deceit are catching up to him,” Mandi Merritt, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, said in an email Thursday. “Voters can see right through Aftab’s phony exterior and will remember these constant legal scandals when they head to the polls in November to elect Steve Chabot.”
Shrive said at Thursday’s hearing he would like for the matter to be resolved before the Nov. 6 election.
Pureval’s attorney said he doesn’t want this to become a sideshow.
Isn’t that what it’s already become?
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.