The Ohio Republican Party (ORP) has given the 2022 re-election campaign of Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) $870,968 since January 1, 2021, despite the fact that DeWine has two announced primary challengers for the Republican gubernatorial nomination – former Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Joe Blystone.
Recent filings by the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee State Candidate Fund with the campaign finance division of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office show the party gave the 2022 re-election campaign of Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted a $500,000 payment on July 30 without the approval of the party’s fiscal review committee or a formal endorsement of the governor’s campaign against rivals for the GOP nomination.
In addition to the $500,000 campaign contribution, the filings showed the party, through the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee State Candidate Fund, paid another $370,968 of expenses for the DeWine/Husted campaign – including payroll, taxes, consulting and accounting services, credit cards and fundraising expenses – from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2021.
Those expenditures, as filed with the Ohio Secretary of State by the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee State Candidate Fund, can be seen here:
Sources have told The Ohio Star neither the contribution nor the apparent reimbursement for joint fundraising activity were vetted by the ORP’s fiscal review committee as required under the party’s bylaws, heightening rising concerns about the financial integrity of the ORP’s accounting practices.
The Star contacted Ohio GOP Treasurer David Johnson and Party Chairman Bob Paduchik for comment about the payments ahead of the planned Sept. 11 candidate endorsement meeting by the ORP’s State Central Committee. Johnson referred questions about the payments to Paduchik, who did not return email messages seeking comment.
DeWine’s press secretary also did not return an email message seeking comments about the hefty contribution and the structure of the governor’s reelection campaign fundraising activities.
The campaign’s competition, Joe Blystone and Jim Renacci, could not be reached for comment.
The campaign’s filings with the Ohio Secretary of State office shows the governor and lieutenant governor raised nearly $3.1 million since Jan. 1 and recorded $150,866 in expenditures. Combined with $3.64 million in reported balance forward from 2020, the campaign reported cash on hand of $6.58 million.
The silence on what prompted the Ohio GOP to financially support an incumbent candidate with at least two competitors seeking to wrest the GOP gubernatorial nomination comes as several central committee members have sought to improve transparency and professionalism in the party’s accounting.
The party has not had a formal audit as required by the party bylaws for at least 16 years.
An audit for 2019 and 2020 is just beginning, and, as The Star reported last week a trio of central committee members have asked the audit to extend to 2017 and 2018 because of unprofessional treatment of two large entries.
Count on The Star to continue digging into this story as it unfolds.
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Brian Ball is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send tips to [email protected]iostar.com.