A second contender for statewide office in Ohio has retained a local campaign fund that’s not subject to state contribution limits.
Republican Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo, a candidate for state treasurer in 2018, has not filed paperwork to close down his uncapped auditor’s fund by converting it into a statewide campaign fund, according to a review of the state database Friday by The Associated Press. The finding was confirmed by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, which said he has not yet filed a designation of treasurer for his state campaign.
Mingo campaign spokesman Mike Hartley said the designation will be filed by the end of June, when the next campaign finance filing is due. Hartley said the timing of the filing was based on advice from the secretary of state’s office sought prior to Mingo’s entry into the treasurer’s race.
Hartley said Mingo is already complying with all state campaign finance limits.
The AP reported Thursday that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley was using a re-election campaign fund for Dayton mayor, also not subject to limits, to raise money for her 2018 bid for governor. Her campaign pulled language from its website after a reporter’s questioning.
Spokeswoman Faith Oltman said Whaley’s campaign has been voluntarily complying with state contribution limits. She called the information posted to the website “a small oversight.”
Donations to a state-level campaign fund are capped at $12,000 for individuals and political action committees, but campaigns for local offices, such as auditor or mayor, are not restricted in Ohio.
Mingo, like Whaley, has until Feb. 7 to establish a statewide campaign account. He faces state Rep. Robert Sprague, of Findlay, in a Republican primary next year. No Democrat has entered the race to replace Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is term-limited and running for U.S. Senate.
Hartley said it won’t take that long. Mingo is not running for re-election as auditor, as Whaley is for mayor, and has already renamed his campaign fund, Hartley said.
Under Ohio law, statewide candidates may transfer up to $200,000 in cash and assets from their local campaign funds to their state campaign funds, said Matt McClellan, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jon Husted, also a 2018 governor candidate. Contributions to the local campaign that exceeded the state limit are not eligible for transfer, he said.
Anything over the $200,000 can be disposed of in one of three ways: it can be refunded to donors, donated to charity or signed over to the Ohio Elections Commission, McClellan said. A message was left at the commission Friday on where the money goes from there.
What is not clear is how money raised into a local fund before a state campaign is established can properly be spent. Under Ohio law, a candidate can only operate one campaign fund at a time.
McClellan said the issue of whether spending done by a local fund is appropriate may ultimately have to be sorted out as part of the campaign, through disputes or complaints before the state elections commission.
“What one person thinks is appropriate, another person may think is inappropriate,” he said. “You have to look at it on an individual basis.”
Source: US News