×

Cutrona paid $20K to fiancee’s consulting firm

State rep from Canfield says he did nothing wrong

State Rep. Al Cutrona said a $20,000 payment his campaign committee made to the political consulting firm run by his fiancee was not only appropriate, but is being brought up to smear him because he is seeking an appointment to the Ohio Senate.

Cutrona’s committee paid $20,000 on Aug. 10 to Great American Strategies LLC of Warrington, Fla., which is operated by Logan Church, his fiancee, and her father, Gene.

“She has done an incredible amount of work for me,” Cutrona, R-Canfield, said of Logan Church. “I’m getting the friends and family discount. I am lucky to have her by my side.”

Cutrona said: “I don’t see an issue when someone does great work to help me with my campaigns. It’s completely normal. I don’t see it as an issue. There’s nothing illegal or unethical here.”

Cutrona said he would continue to use Church’s firm after the two are married sometime next year.

The campaign finance report’s initial filing on Jan. 31 incorrectly listed the firm as Great Dominion Strout LLC with no address. Cutrona said the mistake occurred because Chris Pascarella, his campaign treasurer, couldn’t read the office holder’s handwriting.

Cutrona said he noticed the mistake in February, but the campaign didn’t amend it until about three to four weeks ago.

Cutrona also said the check was written in April 2023, but not posted by his campaign until August.

Cutrona said it’s become an issue because Dave Johnson, chairman of the Columbiana County Republican Party, is trying to get state Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel, R-Columbiana, appointed to a state Senate seat should incumbent Michael Rulli, R-Salem, be elected Tuesday to the U.S. House.

Johnson backs Robb Blasdel for the appointment while Cutrona has the support of Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Tom McCabe.

The 32nd Ohio Senate District takes in all of Mahoning, Columbiana and Carroll counties.

Carroll County Republicans are meeting today, Cutrona said, with candidates interested in not only the appointment but being the party’s nominee on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Johnson couldn’t be reached late Wednesday to comment on Cutrona’s allegations that he is “using strong-armed tactics to get his candidate into the Senate seat.”

Cutrona said Tim Ginter, an East Liverpool Republican who is a former House speaker pro tempore, is also interested in the appointment.

The Ohio Senate Republican Caucus plans to appoint Rulli’s successor on June 13, two days after the special congressional election, Cutrona said.

That person would serve until the end of the year, should Rulli be elected to Congress.

The party chairs and the secretaries of the political parties in each county of the Senate district would select a candidate to run for the rest of Rulli’s term, which would have another two years, on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The party leaders in the three counties and the Senate caucus are planning to coordinate efforts so the same person is chosen to fill the vacancy and be the party’s nominee in November.

Bobby Ina, a political consultant based in Strongsville, sent a letter Wednesday to officials with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office asking for Cutrona campaign’s bank statements, copies of checks, revisions to Cutrona’s reports, any information about active investigations into Cutrona’s fund and public records requests involving Cutrona from 2023 and this year.

The Rooster — a popular Ohio political blog run by D.J. Byrnes, known for confronting politicians and asking difficult questions — first raised the Cutrona issue on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday. He pointed out that Cutrona and Church traveled to Europe only a few days after the $20,000 check was posted.

Cutrona said the two “have absolutely nothing” to do with each other.

Chris Anderson, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, said of Cutrona’s $20,000 payment to Church’s firm: “I wish I could say I’m shocked that Republicans are once again putting their corruption on full display from the billion dollar boondoggle that Al’s party helped pass that increased everyone’s utility bills to Al himself being a deciding vote on the August assault on democracy. He has shown us time and time again how he doesn’t have Mahoning County’s best interests at heart. I wish he’d spend less time attacking librarians and using his campaign money to enrich himself and more time attacking inflation.”

Anderson was referencing a bill Cutrona recently introduced to prohibit public libraries from allowing those under the age of 18 to borrow or view materials deemed “harmful to juveniles” without parental consent.

The bill received sharp criticism from local and state library officials.

Democrat Laura Schaeffer, who is running for Cutrona’s state House seat, said the proposal “is an absolute waste of money,” and Cutrona “should focus his energies and our taxpayer dollars on the issues that actually concern the hard-working families” of the district.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.

NEWSLETTER

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *
   

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today