Montgomery County Democrats are calling for the Republican clerk of courts to resign if allegations at the center of a state auditor’s office probe are found to be true.
The Ohio Auditor of State is investigating allegations that Clerk of Courts Mike Foley used his county office for improper campaign-related activity. The auditor’s office served a search warrant at Foley’s office Wednesday.
“The allegations against Clerk of Courts Mike Foley are shocking,” said Mohamed Al-Hamdani, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party.
“The integrity of the clerk’s office is fundamental to our community and our faith in the justice system. If the allegations are true, and Mike Foley has been using (the) office as a piggy bank for the Republican Party at the taxpayers’ expense, then he should resign,” Al-Hamdani said.
Multiple requests for a response from state Rep. Phil Plummer, the Montgomery County Republican Party Chair, were not returned.
Foley will only comment through his attorney Jon Paul Rion, who noted Wednesday evening that no conclusions have been made and that the search of the office was a request for documents “based on probably the assertions of a disgruntled employee.”
Rion said the clerk’s office is operating as normal with Foley at the helm.
According to a complaint obtained by the Dayton Daily News, the auditor’s office opened an investigation after receiving reports of alleged efforts by Foley to:
- Solicit campaign contributions from employees
- Produce campaign materials using office equipment and resources, including attempts to use office personnel to distribute solicitations on employee chairs
- Pay bonuses to employees tied to whether the employee made a political contribution
- Work on his campaign finance reports at the office with county employees and equipment
Foley’s most recent campaign finance report was filed in July and disclosed campaign activity this year through June.
The Dayton Daily News obtained that report and counted 24 clerk’s office employees who donated to his campaign this year. The contributions totaled $2,852.50, mostly in increments of $50 or less with one large donation of $1,187.50.
Government employees are allowed to make contributions to their elected bosses — and it happens with local officials from both parties — as long as they follow rules under state law. Contributions must be voluntary and can’t be solicited by the elected official. Public employees also can’t be solicited for contributions while at work.
Foley was not on the ballot this year. He was first elected Clerk of Courts in 2018 during a special election and then won re-election in 2020 when he defeated Democrat Zach Dickerson. He will be on the ballot next in 2024.
Foley served as an Ohio Deputy Register for more than a decade before he was elected, his campaign website says. He operated the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Huber Heights.
A request for a response sent to Rion was not responded to Friday.
Rion released a statement after the allegations were revealed Thursday evening, saying:
“Mike Foley and his office have cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the auditor’s preliminary inquiry into these allegations. He has directed his staff to comply promptly and completely with any request received from the auditor’s office. When the facts are fully known and put in context, we are confident that the concerns will dissipate. In the interim, the clerk’s office is open and operating normally.”