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Mahoning Dem chairman wants a state investigation into an improper cash contribution

Published: Mon, April 21, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

Ohio elections panel expected to address complaint filed over $4K cash gift to Kitchen

By David Skolnick



David Betras, Mahoning County Board of Elections vice chairman and head of the county’s Democratic Party, is asking the Ohio Elections Commission to investigate an improper cash campaign contribution from former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone to failed candidate DeMaine Kitchen.

“In light of both the serious nature of these violations and Mahoning County’s well- documented reputation for public corruption — a reputation that honest officeholders and law-enforcement officials have worked hard to erase — I am writing to you today to respectfully request that the OEC give this matter its full attention and undertake an investigation that will bring to light all the facts surrounding this deeply troubling situation,” Betras wrote in a letter to Philip C. Richter, OEC executive director.

Betras first said on April 8 he would write a letter to the commission about the contribution.

The commission is expected to have a hearing June 26 to discuss a complaint filed by the county elections board about the contribution from Sammarone and why Kitchen, who served as Sammarone’s chief of staff/secretary, filed his report almost three months past the deadline.

Kitchen’s post-general-election campaign-finance report listed a $4,000 cash contribution from Sammarone. State law doesn’t permit cash contributions to exceed $100.

Kitchen, who ran in November as an independent candidate for Youngstown mayor, filed the report March 4 when it was due no later than Dec. 13, 2013. The report shows the $4,000 contribution from Sammarone, a Democrat who is now city council president, was given Oct. 27, about a week before the election.

The day after the board of elections filed a complaint with the OEC, Kitchen amended the report April 1. It showed he lent $1,500 to his campaign and used $1,000 left in his account to refund $2,500 of the improper $3,900 cash contribution to Sammarone. He listed the remaining $1,400 as outstanding debt to Sammarone and wrote in a statement that he intends to pay the rest “as soon as he can afford it.”

Kitchen also wrote the amended report “should put an end to the issue.”

But there’s still the OEC hearing.

Sammarone repeatedly has said he should have known the law on cash contributions better and will do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation.

Bryan Ridder, an attorney representing Sammarone and the former mayor’s son, Christopher, a county probate court judicial candidate, has called Betras’ complaints about the contribution “another nefarious attack to sully the Sammarone name.”

Christopher Sammarone, who is running for the seat against Susan Maruca, the party’s endorsed candidate, has said the contribution was inappropriate, but “the purpose [of the complaint] is to gain some advantage in this [probate] race.”

Betras has denied that.

In the letter to Richter, Betras wrote: “This is an extremely serious matter that undoubtedly undermines the public’s faith in our electoral and political systems.” He urged Richter to subpoena Sammarone and Kitchen, put them under oath, and ask them to explain their actions.

Attached to Betras’ letter is a March 16 editorial from The Vindicator that questions the contribution.

The commission could fine a candidate up to three times the amount that exceeds the maximum cash-contribution limit, but that isn’t likely for a first-time offender, Richter has said.

The commission doesn’t have the authority to compel a candidate to refund the money to the donor. But if it believes there was criminal wrongdoing, it can turn the matter over to a county prosecutor.


1Southside_Res(172 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I just love how this guy has an opinion about everything. I've been a loyal Dem all these years, and this is just one more party chair that is completely out of control. This request for an investigation just epitomizes his arrogance and how he has become just so full of himself. He needs to get voted out of his position. He's doing more damage to the valley than helping it. And, that isn't "Dem bashing" as he so likes to accuse anyone who has criticism of his politics. His personal politics absolutely suck. This guy is the biggest moron in Mahoning County!

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2Knightcap(699 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

News articles always about democrats in distress. I wonder if Detroit has the same amount of dog and pony shows as we do. Democrats who are in their 50's or older have to ask themselves what have we been supporting here the past five decades? And the younger ones, what are we getting into? Seems a bag of cash always finds it's way into a story.

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3harleydog(209 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Betras is pissed because his puppet Maruca is going down in defeat. He is an idiot and she is a bigger idiot. Voted not qualified by those in her profession.

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4glbtactivist(250 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Does look like Betras is afraid his candidate will loose to Sammarone. Politics Mahoning County style.

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5unpc(22 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Whatever Betras' motive, laws have been broken. Ethics matter.

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6ysuforever(57 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Lets see,David Betras wants the law to be followed ,yet the haters who constantly complain about corruption still are upset.For once put the pettiness aside and face the facts..David Betras is a Valley icon,revered state -wide as the top Dem county chair in the state and he has the numerous awards to prove it.State -wide candidates flock to the Valley to hear his wisdom and get advice on how to win-look at his proven elections -his candidates win and win big.Betras is trying to do the right thing here yet posters who are jealous of his vast personal success launch unwarranted personal attacks here.In other counties they would be building a statue to honor him for his dedication to honesty and fairness.His attackers are the same people who complain about Jim Tressel.They hate to see people achieve great levels of success in our beloved Valley so they try to drag them down by their words of hate,so sad

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7billdog1(1219 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

ysuforever, that's a different perspective.

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8Nurse_Midlo(34 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Betras is doing the right thing... but maybe for the wrong reasons?

Conventional wisdom would offer that Betras himself is receiving a payoff to incongruously chase the Sammarones.

At the end of the day this is okay as Chuckie and Son are still crooks!

I'm surprised Chuckie didn't respond: "Well what did you expect, you're in the Mah. Valley."

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9Joe6pack(52 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

ysuforever is David Betras

Yes Dave you bought those awards for yourself with our money. Nobody flocks to hear your BS and your candidates win big when you fix the elections.

The attacks are not attacks when they are facts. The fact is Betras is being investigated for many wrong doings. We can only hope that he is taken down before the election for party chair.

Besides you Dave, who among us could stand another 4 years of this ahole?

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10lovethiscity(147 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Build a statue of Dave Betras...? Right.

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11candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

So, who is going to fix the sewers and be overpaid for it?

Someone needs to add value, empty words won't get it done but attention to detail will.

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12listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Is this situation worthy of an investigation, yes, is David Betras the right messenger, no.

Joe6pack is correct, I hear there are on-going investigations, many pointing right at Betras. Betras needs to go and the sooner the better.

Elect a new chairman people!

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13TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I have not posted in a very long time because I despise to associate myself with the standard idiot responders on this board. Further I am often accused of being Dave Betras himself which is untrue and I am hopeful that my support of Chris Sammarone for Probate Court Judge exhibits such, but really don't care. However, the suggestion that the actions of Chuck " I am the biggest public tax sucker ever" Sammarone are to be tolerated are outrageously ridiculous and Betras is right in this matter. So let me get this straight: Chuck Sammarone publicly supports John McNally, however McNally's opponent works for Chuck and Chuck-in violation of multiple campaign finance regulations- give his own employee $4,000.00 in CASH and he should not be subject to criticism or investigation. Chuck Sammarone has sought EVERY Youngstown Municipal elected position for decades, he has acknowledged that this is wrong and should have known better-and there are actually people, most of them Maruca backers I am sure, that feel this should just be ok!!!???? Chris Sammarone is a fine young man and is not responsible for the actions of his father. Susan Maruca has now jumped on the I'll run for whatever bandwagon and is is simply seen as not being fit for the job by her peers. Also we know that Betras supports her. But here is the deal he isn't making this up. Betram and this rag continually harp on the ex-treasurer taking $3,000.00 from a private individual.. For that she lost her position, is doing 5 months in prison, 6 months house arrest, 150+ hours community service, a 2 thousand dollar fine, and 2 years probation. So she took 1,000.00 dollars less from someone she didn't work for and got the above which most of the attackers of Betras usually love. So why the lack of attention for Sammarone, why the love? This guy gave 4 thousand bucks in cash to his employee after lying about his support for McNally and being aware of the wrongdoing. Here's what I think, Chuck thought McNally would be indicted and Kitchen would win so he greased the hand of who he felt could give him yet ANOTHER public allowance. Anyone who feels that this is to be tolerated is an idiot plain and simple. Or corrupt themselves given the hypocrisy of the above information.

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14TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I obviously meant to say Sammarone backers above. Chris would be wiser to support investigations into public corruption as opposed to blaming Betras for his father's backroom deal. He is a lawyer, an officer of the court and wants to be a judge in a tarnished court. That would show far more integrity and this is coming from someone who wants him to win.

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15listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

David Betras - ysuforever - TERRAPINST all are one.

What a sad miserable life for you Dave. So it's true you don't support Maruca and never did. The democrats should throw you out like you threw out those who supported other candidates and not the endorsed democratic candidate. The hypocrisy is that you have gotten away with this double standard for years.

Democrats need to dump Betras.

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16TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The listener: Looked back at your old posts. Pretty much a Maruca minion, You asked how could anyone vote for Chris sammarone in an early rant? Here's how because the competition is garbage . Ask any competent attorney in he bar, Maruca is not held in high annals of legalistic brilliance to say the least. Take politics out of it, if that's possible, what we are talking about is corruption-you obviously support that in some instances. Im Betras huh? So I daily bash Chris Sammarone, am requesting an investigation into his father, publicly and privately support Maruca, BUT secretly I am doing all this to really help Chris Sammarone? I am not Betras but YOU my friend are a member of the nut brigade.

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172muchtax(321 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Samarone admitted he did it and should be tossed in jail for a few months to pay for giving Kitchen the harasser the $4000 in cash. Ytown needs to dump these old clowns. McNally will stay silent on the subject! No doubt!

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18Silence_Dogood(1341 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

A publicity whore plain and simple. Set up a camera and Dave Betras comes running. Write an article and who do you think shows up?

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19papa1(661 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

i know some people talk to themselves, I do on occasion, but c'mon dave, you're ridiculous!

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20commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Why did Maruca leave the Betras law firm OR was she told to go and by WHOM??

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21listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Excellent question commoncitizen! If Betras is the fixer Sammarone says he is then why would Maruca leave the Betras law firm? I think she knows about Daves bad deals and wanted to get away from him.

TERRAPINST - Dave, whoever you are, we'll send you care packages while you're serving your time in jail.

Anyway, latest I hear is that Sammarone is getting out of the race, it's about time!

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22Not_Surprised(48 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

If Dave wants a statue of Dave, he should pull out Marc Dann's checkbook and buy one.

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23realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

My sources, who are completely accurate, tell me Susan Maruca has not practiced law in 2 years. Her "Husband" (everyone knows she has been divorced for years and has lived with her husband) runs the practice while she is pursuing an English degree at YSU. Maybe that is why her colleagues find her incompetent.

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24realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

My sources, who are completely accurate, tell me Susan Maruca has not practiced law in 2 years. Her "Husband" (everyone knows she has been divorced for years and has lived with her husband) runs the practice while she is pursuing an English degree at YSU. Maybe that is why her colleagues find her incompetant

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25listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

realmen is wrong, Susan Maruca runs a law firm and it's tough to do that if you don't practice law, what a load of BS from the Sammarone campaign!

Isn't Sammarone getting out of the race? He should before he ends up in jail like Belinky!

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26realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

And your sources are ??????
My info is ACCURATE !
Investigate before you respond !
This has nothing to do with Sammarone, it is about FACTS. Quite frankly I don't care who wins.

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27listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Since Susan Maruca is my attorney, I'm very sure she practices law and doesn't attend YSU. Those are FACTS!

If you don't care who wins shut your f-ing mouth, those of us that do care don't want a neanderthal hack like Sammarone running the probate court.

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28ysuforever(57 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

What have we learned with all of these comments .First ,that while David Betras is seeking the truth and trying to end corruption its still not good enough for those who are jealous of Davids state wide reputation as a leader of sterling character.Second,while many try to guess the identity of posters as David -and I AM NOT-I many of the unhappy posters could be fellow Democratic chairs jealous of the Love Dave receives state-wide,As the most honored County chair in Ohio and the only chair annually recognized as the Dems Legacy dinner its easy to see why some of you are jealous,Thirdly,we need more of our beautiful Valleys residents to be YTOWN STRONG like David Betras ,a proud resident of our wonderful community who always brags up the Valley while accepting his many awards from Dems throughout our state

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29realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Susan left the Betras firm because David fired her. Now he is her biggest
supporter !!! Imagine that !! And her husband stayed at the Betras firm for many months after.

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30listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

David Betras is under investigation FOR corruption! He is putting up this smoke screen as if it will throw the investigators off! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

ysuforever we all know you are Betras and must be off of your meds again. If you want Thursdays dinner to be a memorable one, take the opportunity to resign. You will receive the largest round of applause you will ever get in your life and you will be unburdened of all of your problems.

Or I invite the members of the BCI/FBI investigators to take the opportunity to go to Thursdays Hall of Fame (Shame) dinner and arrest most of the people you are after that will be in attendance! Then you guys will get the most applause for putting Betras in handcuffs, what a moment it would be!

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31listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

realmen you need to stop with the lies. Betras did not fire Susan. Yes her ex-husband stayed and then he departed on his own accord as did Susan before him.

She is the endorsed candidate and he is the chairman of the party, what do you expect him to do?

Are you a moron realmen?

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32realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Call me what you want, you are just shooting off your mouth. I on the other hand have first hand FACTS !!! Do you think your "Beautiful" incompetent attorney is going to tell you the truth? Have you asked her about her divorce or are you afraid she will lie to you again? You know what they say about attorneys ! Believe what you want but I KNOW FOR SURE !!!

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33realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Call me what you want, you are just shooting off your mouth. I on the other hand have first hand FACTS !!! Do you think your "Beautiful" incompetent attorney is going to tell you the truth? Have you asked her about her divorce or are you afraid she will lie to you again? You know what they say about attorneys ! Believe what you want but I know the TRUTH !!!

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34listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

realmen you don't know anything and are making this stuff up. I have firsthand knowledge, you have rumors made up by a failing campaign and or Betras who lies all the time. All I know for sure is you are full of it.

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35realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

You don't want to know the truth or you would investigate. You just keep posting, instead why don't you check things out. Are you afraid of the truth? Afraid of what you might find.

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36Joe6pack(52 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

After reviewing your posts "realmen" the only person you can be is Betras, how many screen names do you post under David?

First, we all know Susan left the Betras law firm on her own, Betras did not fire her. Second, after making his life miserable Betras forced Chris Maruca out, but he did NOT fire him.

Susan is one of the smartest attorneys in the valley. Is it any surprise that the petty jealousies played out at the Bar Association? It is not, especially with scum like Alan and John buying votes for Sammarone.

Even with all of this nonsense Susan will win this race big time. So try, as I'm sure you will to elect a dolt, Susan will end the corruption and be a great judge in the Probate Court.

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37listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 4 weeks ago

realmen I don't need to investigate someone I know. The only thing I'm afraid of is people like you who lie.

Susan will win and she will be one of the best judges Mahoning County has ever had.

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38realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago


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39lovethiscity(147 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Hello? Any adults here? Hello? Any one?

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40justice264(6 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Sammarone should resign

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41Nurse_Midlo(34 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Its great to see how ruthless the democrats are...

so much trouble for such little power.

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42bcdevellin(8 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

@lovethiscity- I think not. In my opinion politicians are all crooks and liers!!

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43realmen(35 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I AM NOT Dave Betras!!! That is the worst insult I could ever receive !!! However I am finished posting because everyone on this board are blinded morons. I would never post if I wasn't sure !!! You would be very surprised to know what I KNOW!!

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44TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I thought you said I was Dave Betras Joe? The suggestion that Susan Maruca didn't receive a recommendation from the Bar Association because they are jealous of her is laughable. Yeah that's it. She is just not an A-lister. Is what it is. Doesn't mean she won't win-lotta folks in office because they have campaign finance funds way bigger than their ability.

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45listener(112 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Blah blah blah, bottom line, Maruca 65% Sammarone 35% Game Over.

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46kurtw(848 comments)posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Betras calling in the State to investigate corruption is like the Devil asking for an "ethics Probe". Dave better be careful- they're liable to look into some of his activities (and I don't mean the ones at the Davis Y).

P.S. Why doesn't the Vindicator sponsor a contest- Will the real David Betras please stand up? Could me me for that matter- I attack him all the time, but that could be a diversionary ploy. Maybe I'm the one who can't pass a mirror without stopping to comb my hair?

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47uptowngirl(111 comments)posted 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Believe me if the cash contribution was given to a Maruca relative--we would all be saying cover-up.

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48Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Why doesn't chris sammarone publicly denounce his own fathers actions?

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