The Ohio Republican Party filed a complaint alleging that Democrat Rob Richardson’s campaign for state treasurer accepted more than $500,000 in contributions that were improperly funneled through affiliated labor unions in 14 states and the District of Columbia to avoid campaign finance limits.
The 18-page complaint filed Tuesday with the Ohio Elections Commission alleges that Richardson for Ohio Treasurer and the Laborers’ International Union of North America “engaged in a blatant and concerted illegal scheme” to evade contribution limits.
“Our fundraising is in compliance with campaign finance law. We’re proud to have the support of working men and women from organized labor,” said Richardson campaign manager Chris Myers.
Richardson’s father, Rob Richardson Sr., is president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP and the long-time vice president of Laborers’ International Union of North America.
A message seeking comment from LiUNA’s office in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned.
The complaint argues that LiUNA funneled $548,977 in excess campaign contributions to Richardson using affiliated unions and PACs across the country. The affiliates and LiUNA should be considered one entity and subject to the $12,707 contribution limit, the complaint says.
It details instances in which LiUNA affiliates registered political action committees in Ohio, made $12,707 contributions to Richardson’s campaign and then terminated the PAC days or weeks later.
Running to replace incumbent, term-limited state Treasurer Josh Mandel are state Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, and Richardson, of Cincinnati.
Richardson, 40, is a securities litigation attorney and former marketing official for the Laborers Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. He holds engineering and law degrees from the University of Cincinnati, where he also served nine years as a UC trustee.
Campaign finance reports show Richardson has raised $2.1 million, including $674,000 from out of state sources — mostly labor union PACs. He raised another $520,000 from labor groups inside Ohio.
A new poll released this week by Baldwin Wallace University shows Richardson has support from 38.8 percent of likely voters while Sprague’s support stands at 36 percent.
The Ohio Republican Party is asking the elections commission for an expedited review.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said: “The Ohio Republican Party is clearly desperate to distract from Robert Sprague’s weak campaign, which has been propped up by pharmaceutical companies and special interests. Rob Richardson has received the support of working men and women, and this is nothing more than an attempt to silence their voices. Shame on the Ohio GOP.”
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