Ohio Republican chairman calls for investigation, public audit of O'Brien
WARREN -- The Ohio Republican Party's chairman wants a full investigation and public audit of Mayor Michael O'Brien's handling of campaign funds.
"The public has a right to know that Mayor O'Brien is not abusing tax dollars the same way he's abusing his own campaign funds," said Bob Bennett, state GOP chairman.
O'Brien, a Democrat, is a former Trumbull County commissioner.
Victor V. Vigluicci, a special prosecutor in Trumbull County, says in a complaint filed with the Ohio Elections Commission that O'Brien, from 2000 to 2003, received $2,035 in campaign contributions that were deposited into the joint personal checking account with his wife, Louise, or the personal savings of his wife and son, Dominic.
There's no evidence the money was ever transferred into the campaign account; converting campaign funds for personal use is prohibited by Ohio Revised Code.
O'Brien said this is the first time in 25 years of politics that such an error was noted in his report. He said he deposited $1,500 from his personal account to the committee's account, when the matter was brought to his attention in 2004. Any other required reimbursement to the committee will be remedied after he reviews the complaint's numbers, the mayor said.
Bennett says state Sen. Marc Dann of Liberty, D-32nd, who is pressing Republican Gov. Bob Taft for details on Ohio's coin investment scandal, also should press for more records from O'Brien's campaign.