NEW DETAILS: Clerk of Courts investigation involves campaign-related activity allegations

The Ohio Auditor of State is investigating allegations that Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Mike Foley engaged in inappropriate campaign-related activity at the clerk’s office, according to a document obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

The auditor’s office served a search warrant at Foley’s office Wednesday, more than a week after the document says the office received allegations about efforts by Foley, a Republican, to:

» MORE REPORTING: Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Office raided: Details from Wednesday

- 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

The document concludes with a note from Don Petit, deputy director of the auditor’s office Special Investigations Unit: “I recommend we open this matter as a preliminary inquiry based on the information shared, and determine appropriate next steps to continue gathering information.”

In the report, Petit said that he made contact with an individual who had second-hand knowledge of the conduct and “was able to provide contact information with an employee of the Clerk’s office, who had first-hand knowledge.”

The auditor’s office said it will not release any additional information on the ongoing investigation. Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said Thursday that he was contacted by the state auditor’s office to inform him of its investigation and that it would keep him advised.

Foley is being represented by local attorney Jon Paul Rion.

Heck previously said that his office represents the county agency, but “if there’s a crime that’s been committed or a criminal matter, we would not represent them. We have no idea what Mr. Rion’s role is with the clerk of courts.”

Thursday evening, Rion issued a statement.

“Mr. Foley fully believes in the integrity of the Montgomery County Clerk’s Office and has always acted to fulfill the expectations of the position and to benefit the citizens of Montgomery County,” Rion said.

“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.”

Mohamed Al-Hamdani, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, also issued a statement Thursday evening.

“The allegations against Clerk of Courts Mike Foley are shocking,” Al-Hamdani said. “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 office as a piggy bank for the Republican Party at the taxpayer’s expense, then he should resign.”

Rion 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.”

Foley was elected Clerk of Courts in 2020 and was not on the ballot this year.

He will continue to have a regular schedule and was back at work on Thursday, Rion said. He has no restrictions on his capacity to serve the public.

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