Politics

Republican Steve Chabot’s Democratic Challenger’s Campaign Probed Over Redacted Checks From His Mom

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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  • An Ohio Board of Elections staffer redacted four checks’ memo lines at the request of Aftab Pureval’s campaign manager
  • Elections officials are now concerned Pureval may have improperly used campaign funds meant for his county campaign for his congressional campaign
  • The state elections commission voted 6 to 1 on Thursday to move forward with a probe

A $16,427 check with a black box over the memo line led to an Ohio Elections Commission probe into Republican Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot’s Democratic challenger’s campaign, elections officials announced Thursday.

Democratic candidate Aftab Pureval currently holds a county office as clerk of courts. His congressional campaign is being investigated after allegations that Pureval’s congressional campaign dipped into his county election campaign funds for thousands of dollars, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer. The probe could have serious impact on the tight congressional race ahead of the November election.

The state elections commission voted 6 to 1 to move forward with a probe at the Thursday hearing in Columbus, Ohio, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer. Pureval “spent $30,000 from his clerk of courts campaign” between January and June even though his county term does not end until 2020. Most of the campaign money came from Pureval’s mother, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The $16,427 check to GBA Strategies once had “poll balance” on the memo line. The money came from Pureval’s county campaign funds and was used for polling for both the congressional and county races, Pureval campaign attorney Peter O’Shea said.

“Polling can be done for both races, and there’s no law that prohibits from running for two offices at the same time,” O’Shea said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s exactly what’s happening.”

O’Shea “wouldn’t comment on why Pureval was polling in the clerk’s race,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer Wednesday.

The county campaign funds also went to photography and out-of-state travel.

Pureval said he had nothing to do with redacting information on four checks when his campaign manager Sarah Topy filed campaign finance documents related to his position as Hamilton County clerk of courts on Aug. 1, reported WCPO.

“I didn’t know about the redaction, and I didn’t authorize it,” Pureval told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Nothing is more important to me than transparency, and I’ve made that very clear to my team. All our filings have been clear and accurate. I’m confident this issue will be resolved in our favor.”

The probe was prompted by separate complaints filed by “activist” Mark Miller and attorney Brian Shriver, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer. Miller also claims that Pureval’s congressional campaign filed inaccurate reports and did not document all expenses, according to the Ohio newspaper.

“Aftab has been lying to the public from day one of his campaign,” Chabot campaign spokesperson Cody Rizzuto told The Daily Caller News Foundation via email. “The inevitable reckoning and revelation of the truth began this week. Aftab Pureval and his campaign operatives broke campaign finance laws, and worse yet, have actively worked to cover it up. Aftab’s actions have disqualified him to be a candidate for Congress, or even hold his current position as clerk of courts.”

County election official Sally Krisel was chided for redacting four checks at Topy’s request, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer Wednesday. Redacting check memo lines is not illegal, but campaign finance documents must lay out what the checks were used to pay for. Krisel was rebuked for redacting the checks herself and taking too long to notify other Board of Elections staff of her actions.

“Republicans have politicized this process from the very beginning,” Topy said in a statement, according to WCPO. “They are desperately trying to politicize campaign finance reports which are accurate, complete and legal.”

Chabot has represented Ohio’s 1st Congressional District since 1995 with a two-year hiatus from 2009 and 2011 after losing to Democrat Steve Driehaus. The race switched from “Leans Republican” to “Toss Up” on Sabato’s Crystal Ball in late July, reported WVXU. (RELATED: Trump Administration Backed Off Including These Critical Items In Latest Tariffs)

Pureval’s campaign website lists his support for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, trade agreements to “protect American workers” and labor unions as “the backbone of the middle class.”

TheDCNF reached out to the Pureval campaign but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

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