Mahoning County Democratic chairman questions nearly $10,000 in small contributions collected by a Republican candidate at a fundraiser
By David Skolnick
David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, is questioning a campaign-finance report from George Levendis, a Republican county commissioner candidate, who says he received $9,835 in contributions of $25 or less at a May 27 fundraiser.
That would be at least 394 contributors, which Betras said is highly unlikely and “raises serious concerns.”
But Levendis said the figures are accurate, and he will share the names of the contributors with the county board of elections as Betras, who serves as its vice chairman, is requesting.
Betras is “implying it’s impossible to sell 390 tickets, but it’s easy for me,” said Levendis, Campbell council president who is challenging incumbent Democrat David Ditzler for county commissioner. “He is trying to cast doubt on my campaign. It’s typical David Betras. It screams desperation.”
Betras said he’s not desperate and only wants “to let people know who’s contributing money to campaigns in Mahoning County.”
As required by state law, Levendis filed a pre-general-election campaign-finance report last Thursday listing $9,835 – in amounts no greater than $25 each – raised at a May 27 fundraiser at Rachel’s Restaurant & Catering in Austintown.
The report also lists a $2,291.35 expenditure to the restaurant for food and renting the location. That’s a little less than $6 a head if 394 people paid $25 a ticket.
State law doesn’t require Levendis or his wife, Sheri, his campaign treasurer, to provide the list of those who gave the campaign $25 or less with the pre-general report. But campaigns for positions such as county commissioner must keep records of names and addresses of those who gave $25 or less.
Betras sent a letter to Mark Munroe, board of elections chairman and the head of the county Republican Party, asking the board require Levendis and/or his wife to produce the names.
Levendis said he will voluntarily turn over the list of contributors.
“It’s not a problem,” Levendis said. But “I don’t know what [Betras’] angle is.”
Betras said he doesn’t see how nearly 400 people could fit into Rachel’s and that “it will be interesting to see the names” on Levendis’ list.
Rachel’s bar and restaurant can hold up to 165 people, and the banquet facility can accommodate 95 for a total of 255 at any one time, according to the Austintown Fire Department.
Munroe said Levendis isn’t the subject of a board investigation, but Betras is welcome to present information to the board to potentially prompt one.
“Betras presents absolutely no facts or information that Mr. Levendis has done anything improper except perhaps trying to run against a Democrat in Mahoning County,” Munroe said.