COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) found probable cause to further investigate and decide two complaints filed against Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone’s campaign and booked a full-panel hearing for May 2, one day before the primary election.
Thursday, a Probable Cause panel comprised of commissioners D. Michael Crites (R), Charleta B. Tavares (D) and Ernest C. Knight (I) voted unanimously on an expedited investigation into cases that allege the Canal Winchester farmer and restauranteur improperly reported campaign contributions and expenditures and spent campaign funds for personal use.
The Ohio Elections Commission executive director informed attorney Curt C. Hartman that the commission’s Probable Cause Panel scheduled a hearing Thursday to address two complaints his client, Butler County resident Mary Capella, filed April 7 against GOP gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone.
“After further consideration, I have determined that the matters at issue in these cases will be expedited for consideration pursuant to Ohio Revised Code §3517.154(A)(2)(b) and placed before a Probable Cause Panel of the Commission,” wrote Philip C. Richter, who also works as the commission’s staff attorney.
The attorney for Sarah Chambers, the whistleblower, and former co-campaign manager for Joseph K. Blystone’s gubernatorial campaign, told The Ohio Star Blystone’s lawsuit filed Tuesday asking the court to order the Ohio Elections Commission to dismiss Chambers’ Oct. 28 51-page complaint against him is a futile and desperate exercise.
“The old saying is, if the facts are on your side, you pound the facts. If the law’s on your side, you pound the law. If neither the facts nor the law is on your side, you pound the table,” said Scott A. Pullins, the Mount Vernon lawyer, who has for many years represented candidates, campaigns and political action committees.
The attorney for Sarah Chambers, the former co-campaign manager for Joseph K. Blystone’s gubernatorial campaign, filed her first request for records in support of her campaign finance complaint against her former campaign under consideration by the Ohio Elections Commission.
Scott A. Pullins, the Mount Vernon lawyer representing Chambers, named Blystone, his wife and treasurer M. Jane Blystone, and Friends of Joe Blystone, the campaign committee as respondents.
The complainant of the October 28 campaign finance complaint against Republican gubernatorial candidate Joseph K. Blystone told The Ohio Star she tried to convince Blystone to play by the rules before leaving the campaign.
“I had conversations about that, I would say at least five times personal conversations about that very thing, not only myself, but other leaders who I have emails from that I still have,” said Sarah Chambers, who joined the Blystone campaign in March and for the next four months served as the co-campaign manager.
“I emailed him concerns about: ‘Hey, how are we supposed to be doing campaign finance? How do donations work? What do we need to be keeping track of?’” she said.
“I really didn’t want to have to bring this complaint. It wasn’t my intention really to bring it, and I kind of just kept putting aside my own personal feelings and responsibility, just to tell the truth about what happened,” she said.
Last month, Project Veritas, Project Veritas Action Fund and James O’Keefe sued the Ohio Elections Commission. They claim the Commission is enforcing an unconstitutional violation of their 1st and 14th Amendment rights by prohibiting them “from reporting unapproved information that is acquired through investigating a political campaign while undercover.”