Hearing against Dann delayed
By David Skolnick
The issues ‘deserve a full and complete review’ by the commission, its executive director says.
The Ohio Elections Commission is postponing its Thursday hearing into “serious allegations” of campaign finance law violations filed against ex-Attorney General Marc Dann, members of his campaign committee and others, said Philip C. Richter, its executive director.
“These cases are complex and involve an array of parties, facts and circumstances,” Richter said. “I anticipate that the commission’s review will proceed in a timely, efficient and effective manner.”
The seven-member commission was to have a preliminary review of allegations of campaign finance law violations Thursday. Richter said he anticipates the commission will discuss the accusations at its March 5 meeting.
“The issues presented to the commission in these complaints deserve a full and complete review by the seven members of the commission,” he said. “These are serious allegations. I expect a lengthy and detailed presentation of evidence by the parties. It will take time for the commission to properly review the complaints and any other evidence obtained by the commission. I am also confident that the commission will want to deliberate appropriately on these issues.”
Also, the terms of two of the commission’s members will expire shortly.
“It would be unfair to the parties and the remaining members of the commission to be forced to try to resolve these cases before there is a change to the membership,” Richter said.
The Ohio Inspector General and the Ohio Secretary of State filed complaints last month against Dann and others associated with his campaign committee accusing them of violating state campaign finance law. Dann has denied the validity of the complaints.
Inspector General Thomas P. Charles said Dann used campaign contributions as a “personal honey pot” for everyday living expenses such as meals, at least $4,368.63 for cellular telephones for his family, $40,610.28 for a security system at his private house in Liberty as well as “lavish payments from his campaign account” including checks to employees on the state payroll.
The complaint filed by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was related only to the cell phones for Dann, his wife and children and the security system.
Donald J. McTigue, Dann’s attorney, has said that under a worst-case scenario, the commission would require his client to reimburse the money and pay a fine. He added that a fine is “very unlikely.”
Dann, a Democrat, resigned May 14 under pressure from state Democratic and Republican leaders.
That occurred after a May 2 internal attorney general report described the office under Dann as one filled with cronyism and unprofessional behavior. Charles issue a scathing report Dec. 22 of Dann’s administration, questioning the ex-attorney general’s conduct and included accusations of potential criminal acts by subordinates.