Don L. Hanni III, running for a Democratic precinct committee seat, filed a complaint with the Mahoning County Board of Elections contending party Chairman David Betras sent “false and misleading literature” to Democrats in various precincts in which there are contested races.
Betras and Kenneth A. Carano, the party’s executive vice chairman, said the complaint, filed Friday, has no merit.
At issue is campaign mailers stating certain committee candidates, including Hanni’s opponent, are “endorsed by the Mahoning County and Ohio Democratic Parties.”
Carano said the three-member elections committee — himself, party Treasurer Richard P. Clautti, and Joyce Kale-Pesta, the elections board’s director — met Feb. 25 to endorse in contested precinct committee member races, about 30 in all. It did the same thing four years ago, Carano and Betras said.
The county party sent the endorsed precinct candidates list and mailer to the state party, which then allowed the local party to use its postage-discount rate to send them, Betras said. The money used to print and mail the literature was raised privately with no money coming from the party, he said. If the state party didn’t endorse the candidates, it wouldn’t have permitted the local party to use its postage discount, Betras said.
But Hanni — running in Youngstown Precinct 5L against incumbent John A. (Jack) Palermo, a former county commissioner — said Betras, vice chairman of the county board of elections, lied about the endorsements and should be required to immediately send another mailer correcting that. Betras dismissed the demand saying he did nothing wrong.