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CAMPAIGN FINANCE O'Brien fined in elections violation

By Jeff Ortega

Friday, September 2, 2005


The mayor was asked about the matters during testimony to a grand jury.
By JEFF ORTEGA
VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT
COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Elections Commission on Thursday found Warren Mayor Michael J. O'Brien violated state elections law in how his campaign handled some political contributions.
The elections commission also voted to impose $1,875 in fines against O'Brien. The violations date from 2000 to 2003 while O'Brien was a Trumbull County commissioner.
O'Brien and his wife, Louise, who were named in the complaint, didn't appear before the commission. Their lawyer, Donald McTigue of Columbus, said O'Brien "regrets that this happened."
According to a complaint filed in July by Victor V. Vigluicci, special prosecutor in Trumbull County, O'Brien from 2000 to 2003 received $2,035 in campaign contributions that were deposited into the joint personal checking account with his wife, or the personal savings of son Dominic and Louise O'Brien.
O'Brien has said he was asked about the campaign-finance matters during his testimony to a grand jury probing purchasing contracts in Trumbull County.
The complaint says there's no evidence the money in question was ever transferred into the campaign account and converting campaign funds to personal use is banned by state law.
In a sworn statement submitted to the elections commission, O'Brien, who was elected Warren mayor in 2003, said he formed his campaign committee in 1992. In 1997, O'Brien said his wife agreed to be the campaign committee's treasurer, a post she served in until July 26.
The mayor or his wife have made three deposits from personal funds to O'Brien's campaign fund totaling $2,035 to correct any campaign-finance mistakes, his affidavit said.
To correct cash contributions to O'Brien's campaign fund that had not been deposited, but had been reported on campaign finance reports, O'Brien has deposited $1,313 from his personal funds to his campaign account, his affidavit said.
Angelo faces similar allegations
Separately, the commission continued until Sept. 22 a hearing on allegations of campaign finance violations against former Trumbull County Commissioner Joseph J. Angelo, Jr. also brought by Vigluicci.
According to the complaint, Angelo, from 1999 to 2002, had contributions of $25 or less that "significantly exceeded amounts traceable to the campaign bank account." The complaint says that the total amount of contributions received by the Angelo campaign but not deposited is $7,805.
The complaint against Angelo also alleges that three checks totaling $4,100 were written from Angelo's campaign bank account to him or his wife as "loans." One for $1,000 was payable to Angelo's wife, Toni, and two checks totaling $3,100 were made payable to then-Commissioner Angelo.
Angelo, who was defeated in the 2004 Democratic primary, has not yet filed an answer in the case, said McTigue, who is also representing Angelo.