Plain Dealer: Blystone Ordered to Return $100K+ in Campaign Donations
"It's going to take a lot of work to defeat DeWine in these final weeks, and it won't be done by spreading baseless lies or going broke from returning hundreds of thousands of dollars in mismanaged donations."
We already knew Joe Blystone's campaign was built on lies about Jim Renacci. Now we're learning its too incompetent and mismanaged to even file a basic fundraising report.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Ohio Secretary of State's office has ordered Blystone's campaign to return over $100,000 in campaign donations that "violate the state’s limit on cash donations or ban on corporate donations." The 20-page examination from Secretary Frank LaRose's office "also found more than two dozen other irregularities, including missing information about donors, missing or overly vague descriptions of expenditures and contributors, and an additional $130,000 in contributions that may need to be refunded because they may have come from corporations."
Blystone has already come under fire by conservatives in the state for lying about Jim Renacci's record. A group of Ohio conservatives recently signed a letter warning Blystone's claims were "malicious and libelous," and an analysis from the conservative Ohio Press Network concluded Blystone's claims were "a bridge too far."
"Joe Blystone has spent the past year doing DeWine's dirty work for him and paving the way for his re-election," Renacci campaign spokesman Tom Weyand said in a statement. "It's going to take a lot of work to defeat DeWine in these final weeks, and it won't be done by spreading baseless lies or going broke from returning hundreds of thousands of dollars in mismanaged donations. It's now clearer than ever that Jim Renacci is the committed pro-Trump, America First conservative Ohio Republican primary voters can rely on to have the discipline and the organization necessary to put an end to Mike DeWine's forty year political career."
Check out the Cleveland Plain Dealer story below:
Ohio GOP governor candidate Joe Blystone ordered to return more than $100,000 in campaign donations
Cleveland Plain Dealer
March 22, 2022
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office says Republican Joe Blystone’s campaign for governor must refund a total of more than $100,000 in contributions that violate the state’s limit on cash donations or ban on corporate donations.
The flagged contributions include more than $101,000 in donations that exceed the state’s limit of $100 for each contribution made in cash, according to a March 4 letter sent by Brian Katz, campaign-finance director for LaRose’s office. Katz also wrote that it’s necessary for Blystone to refund $1,100 in in-kind contributions from corporations, which aren’t allowed to donate to Ohio political candidates.
The 20-page examination of Blystone’s campaign finance reports from 2021 by LaRose’s office also found more than two dozen other irregularities, including missing information about donors, missing or overly vague descriptions of expenditures and contributors, and an additional $130,000 in contributions that may need to be refunded because they may have come from corporations.
The letter gives Blystone’s campaign until March 25 to respond. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Blystone’s campaign had not responded to LaRose’s office, according to secretary of state spokesman Rob Nichols.
If Blystone’s campaign doesn’t respond after Friday’s deadline, LaRose’s office will refer the matter to the Ohio Elections Commission, the letter states.
Nichols noted that the secretary of state’s office routinely examines Ohio political candidates’ campaign-finance filings and often writes campaigns seeking additional information about the forms they submitted.
Cleveland.com has reached out to Blystone’s campaign for comment.
Blystone, a Columbus-area farmer, is one of three Republicans challenging Gov. Mike DeWine in this year’s primary. Easily identifiable thanks to his bushy beard and ever-present cowboy hat, the first-time political candidate has attracted support from many conservatives upset with DeWine over his coronavirus policies, among other things.
The letter was sent to cleveland.com by Scott Pullins, a Mount Vernon attorney who has been helping another DeWine primary challenger, ex-U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. Pullins is representing a number of former Blystone campaign volunteers and staff who filed an Ohio Elections Commission complaint accusing Blystone’s campaign of violating numerous campaign-finance laws, including failing to document thousands of dollars in donations.
The elections commission voted to hold a hearing on the allegations, but the matter was placed on hold after Blystone filed a lawsuit accusing the commission of abusing its powers.