A small Republican grassroots panel called the Committee for a Better Ohio has challenged the legality of the Ohio Republican Party (ORP)’s decision to support the re-election campaign of Gov. Mike DeWine without the affirmation of the state central committee.
It comes just a few weeks after the Mercer County GOP also expressed its opposition to the Ohio Republican Party’s endorsing the DeWine/Husted reelection ahead of the May 2022 primaries as it holds back any endorsement from the Northwest Ohio county.
The grassroots committee, formed in the spring 2020 to oppose DeWine’s shuttering many sectors of Ohio’s economy at the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, this last weekend asked the ORP central committee to rescind a $500,000 campaign contribution the party gave the DeWine Husted for Ohio campaign in late July and campaign reimbursements totaling $370,968 since January 1.
The grassroots committee cited the GOP’s support without any formal approval by the ORP’s state central committee’s fiscal review committee or a central committee endorsement of the DeWine Husted for Ohio campaign over two other announced candidates ahead of a scheduled September 10 endorsement committee.
The grassroot committee’s resolution also challenged the legality of the payments, citing their understanding of state law as well as the party’s own bylaws.
“Article 3, Section 7 of the Ohio Republican Party State Central & Executive Committee bylaws state, ‘No officer or member of the Committees shall have any power to bind this Committee by any financial contract or obligation, except as provided by these rules or by resolution properly adopted by a majority of the members of the Committee present and voting and properly recorded by the (ORP) Secretary in the minutes of the Committee,” the grassroots committee resolution to the central committee reads.
“… This committee can find no evidence that authorized the expenditures made to the Gubernatorial campaign of Mike DeWine.”
The resolution added, “This committee demands that the State Central Committee demand restitution of the funds in question from the Gubernatorial campaign,” it read. “This committee believes the distribution of funds to the DeWine Gubernatorial Campaign appears to intentionally circumvent and violate Ohio’s campaign finance laws.”
The resolution concludes that the document will be sent to the Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Franklin County Prosecutors’ office as well to Republican county party chairs and the media.
Pushback from Northwest Ohio
Jon Morrow, the grassroots committee’s policy director, said many members of the central committee have become complacent in their oversight role over Party management. “They’re not engaged in their job,” Morrow, a Sheffield Lake resident, told The Ohio Star. “They’re supposed to be watchdogs over the (party) funds.”
Meantime, the Mercer County Republican Party Central Committee on July 19 expressed its general dissatisfaction with the DeWine administration in a brief resolution County Chairman Greg Homan sent to the Ohio GOP’s central committee even before The Star stories revealed the GOP contribution and reimbursements of DeWine/Husted campaign expenses.
The resolution, as posted on the party’s Facebook site, reads, “Due to very significant local dissatisfaction with the current administration, The Mercer County Republican Central and Executive Committee do not endorse current Governor, Mike DeWine, in the Spring 2022 Primary Election. We also are requesting the Ohio State Republican Central Committee refrain from endorsing DeWine, nor using party financial resources to support him in the Primary Election.”
In an interview, Homan told The Star, “There’s a lot of frustration with the current [DeWine] administration,” including the business restrictions, mask mandates and other COVID-19 and vaccination lotteries. He also pointed to management the resulting mismanagement of the overwhelmed unemployment system and the ongoing federal corruption investigation tied to the FirstEnergy bribery case hanging over state government.
“The (Ohio GOP) party,” Homan said, “really shouldn’t be supporting the governor.”
Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Paduchik and a DeWine spokesman have declined to explain the financial support ahead of the endorsement meeting when contacted.
Stay tuned to The Star as further developments unfold.
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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.