National super PAC money shows up in Greene County prosecutors race

Alice DeWine
Caption
Alice DeWine

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Republican Alice DeWine’s campaign for Greene County prosecutor — her dad’s old job — is benefiting from a super PAC whose donors are undisclosed, federal records show.

Protecting Ohio Action Fund, a federal super political action committee based in Washington, D.C. and established Sept. 9, is urging Greene County residents to support DeWine.

Alice DeWine said the money is an independent expenditure that she didn’t know about.

“When I got it in my mailbox, I didn’t know it was coming,” she said. “I’m just as surprised as the next person.”

One informational insert mailed by the organization to Greene County residents reads “Thank You, Alice DeWine, A Greene County Leader.”

The fund established a website, ProtectingGreeneCounty.com, to promote DeWine for prosecutor, saying she stands with law enforcement, protects children and pursues justice for crime victims. It has spent more than $35,500 on Facebook digital ads promoting DeWine.

DeWine, daughter and next-door neighbor of Gov. Mike DeWine, is running in the March 17 GOP primary against David Hayes, a long-time assistant prosecutor in Greene County. No Democrat has filed to run.

“It’s a legitimate question for Greene County voters to ask why is so much money being devoted to a county election,” Hayes said. “I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a dark money Washington D.C. PAC involved in a county race. Where is that money coming from? I think that is a legitimate question.”

The political action committee finance report shows it received a single, undisclosed contribution of $199, and it owes $104,281 to Majority Strategies LLC for polling and digital advertising. The most recent report covers finances through Dec. 31 but the next report isn't due until April 15, nearly a month after the primary. It's not known if the PAC paid Majority Strategies exclusively for work on the Greene County prosecutor's race.

Majority Strategies is political consulting and advertising firm headed by Brett Buerck, who served as chief of staff to Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, more than 15 years ago.

Alice DeWine's campaign finance report shows she raised $24,850 and loaned her campaign $15,000. Contributors include her parents and brother, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine, and distant cousin Kevin DeWine and other relatives. She paid Majority Strategies $6,449 for web design and literature.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s first elected office was Greene County prosecutor in 1977. He also has served as an state senator, U.S. representative, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator and attorney general.

RELATED: Day after Haller withdraws, DeWine announces bid for Greene County Prosecutor

Alice DeWine worked as a Greene County assistant prosecutor for a decade. She left that post in April and began working in the Clark County prosecutor’s office.

“I’m not going to put down my opponent,” DeWine said. “Just going to stay positive because I’ve got a vision for the office of what I know the office can be. So I’m working toward that so I can get elected and carry out my vision.”

DeWine said her vision follows what she calls her “four E’s” — education on the dangers of drugs, enforcement of the laws, empathy for the drug addicted and efficiency for a more efficiently run prosecutor’s office.

Hayes, retired as a captain from the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 2016 after more than 24 years of service, according to his website. He resides in Beavercreek. He’s worked as assistant prosecutor in the Greene County prosecutor’s office for 15 years and was appointed by current Prosecutor Stephen Haller to chief trial counsel of the office’s Criminal Division.

According to the Ohio Campaign Finance Report, Hayes' campaign raised $36,025 and had a balance of $20,510.

“I truly believe that I am the best equipped, best qualified person to hold this position,” Hayes said. “And it’s because I care so much about this office and what we do that I was willing to take on what a lot of people have described as a really daunting challenge in taking on the DeWine machine.”

Last fall, Haller, long-time Greene County prosecutor, said he would seek re-election but then two weeks later he withdrew from the race. Alice DeWine announced her campaign the following day.

Haller dropped his re-election campaign shortly after a Virginia-based group, America Rising Corp., requested public records from his office regarding Alice DeWine, placement of security cameras and leave time policies for nursing mothers.

He said he didn’t drop out because of any issues with Alice DeWine.

“Someone very close to me had a health issue and I had to make a decision,” Haller said. “I think it’s fair to say we had a conflict at the end — but that didn’t influence my decision.”

Records released to America Rising and obtained by the Dayton Daily News show that Alice DeWine and Elizabeth Ellis expressed concern about the placement of a security camera and had issues with a time clock application. Alice DeWine delivered a baby boy – her fourth child — in January 2019.

“I know them both, I know their work product,” Haller said. “I’m not going to degrade Alice, but I guess it’s kind of like this. If you had to grade somebody, I would give David an A+ and I would give Alice a C. To me it’s not even close.”

DeWine said she left in April out of frustration after returning from maternity leave.

“I don’t want to talk about it too much because this race is about my vision,” DeWine said.