Ohio Secretary of State investigates LetOhioVote.org campaign funds

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February 19, 2010

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COLUMBUS, Ohio: LetOhioVote.org, sponsors of the proposed Ohio Slot Machines Veto Referendum, is under investigation by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. The proposed veto referendum calls for placing Gov. Ted Strickland's plan for video slot machines on the 2010 ballot. The governor's plan includes a total of 2,500 video slot machines at 7 race tracks.

According to campaign finance reports, LetOhioVote.org has received about $1.6 million in funds from a Virginia-based nonprofit organization - New Models. Individual donors have not been identified. Brunner said,"Using a 'straw person' out-of-state corporation to hide the real sources of funding not only violates the public trust, it looks like concealment, which is against the law." However, LetOhioVote.org argues that they have complied with all state laws. "It's pretty clear this is a fishing expedition that will most likely waste tax dollars and time," Carlo LoParo, a Columbus Consultant, said.

According to reports, Brunner has issued subpoenas to several people linked to the group, including: LetOhioVote.org; New Models of Washington, D.C.; LoParo; former state Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr.; Columbus consultant Gene Pierce; Tim Crawford, president and treasurer of New Models; Norman Cummings, a former Blackwell campaign consultant who helped set up LetOhioVote's website.[1][2]

Possible violations:
According to Brunner she can file complaints to the Ohio Elections Commission on two bases:[1]

  1. Election law requires corporations to disclose involvement in a ballot issue, whether it is proposed or certified
  2. Election law prohibits the concealment of campaign funds contributions

If LetOhioVote or any of the related organizations are found guilty by the commission they would be subject to fines or the case may be referred for criminal prosecution where jail time is a possibility.[1]

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