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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.


1Roger_Thornhill(626 comments)posted 8 months ago

How is this story any different than the other story about this?

Oh, closer to the election, and Betras wants to keep Sammarone name in paper in negative way.

Mayor Samamarone sure seems like a real piece of work, but they already have the case in Columbus. Why is this a story again?

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2michael1757(291 comments)posted 8 months ago

Sorry Sammy,your father is sillying your name.Pun intended.He didn't think kitchen would report it,but he did,& HE even did it too LATE.I didn't vote for you either.I don't trust you.So,I hope both of them get fined,& a little jail time wouldn't hurt either.Plus your dad should be kicked off the council.

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3harleydog(218 comments)posted 8 months 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(261 comments)posted 8 months ago

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

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5billdog1(1804 comments)posted 8 months ago

ysuforever, that's a different perspective.

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6Nurse_Midlo(34 comments)posted 8 months 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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7candystriper(575 comments)posted 8 months 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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8Roger_Thornhill(626 comments)posted 8 months ago

Was Betras having press conferences during the prosecutor's race when the endorsed Democrat was under attack?

Well, I don't remember that happening, because the endorsed Democrat regardless of the office being sought gives Betras power, and that is what this is all about: POWER for Betras.

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9TERRAPINST(314 comments)posted 8 months 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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10TERRAPINST(314 comments)posted 8 months 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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11TERRAPINST(314 comments)posted 8 months 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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122muchtax(410 comments)posted 8 months 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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13Silence_Dogood(1384 comments)posted 8 months 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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14papa1(696 comments)posted 8 months ago

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

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15commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 8 months ago

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

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16Not_Surprised(48 comments)posted 8 months ago

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

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17realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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18realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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19realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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20realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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21realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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22realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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23realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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24realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months ago


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25Nurse_Midlo(34 comments)posted 8 months ago

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

so much trouble for such little power.

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26bcdevellin(8 comments)posted 8 months ago

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

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27realmen(35 comments)posted 8 months 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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28TERRAPINST(314 comments)posted 8 months 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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29kurtw(938 comments)posted 8 months 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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30uptowngirl(117 comments)posted 7 months, 3 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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31Askmeificare(711 comments)posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago

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

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