Countdown To Election Day: Congressman Renacci’s Shady Super PAC
October 21, 2018
As the clock winds down to Election Day, we’re taking a look back at the lowlights of Congressman Jim Renacci’s Senate bid – a campaign that’s been defined by embarrassing stories, despicable lows, and complaints from Republicans that Renacci never “even picked up the towel.”
We’re kicking off this week by taking a look at the super PAC working to elect Congressman Renacci, which has engaged in what “may be the shadiest super PAC move ever” and is now the subject of two separate complaints.
Continue following along over the next 15 days as we count down to the end of Congressman Renacci’s pathetic political career.
The super PAC working to elect Congressman Jim Renacci was first reported on in June, when The Daily Beast wrote that it engaged in what “may be the shadiest super PAC move ever” and that the group’s “operations stand out for their intense secrecy.” Since then, two complaints against the super PAC have been filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
When it comes to shady dealings and willingness to break the rules, Congressman Renacci’s super PAC is just like the candidate it’s working to elect.
Daily Beast: This May Be The Shadiest Super PAC Move Ever
Lachlan Markay - June 29, 2018
- A mysterious political group spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of a Republican Senate candidate without informing federal election regulators that it had ever spent a single cent.
- Ohio First PAC finally reported nearly half a million dollars in expenditures on behalf of Rep. Jim Renacci’s Senate campaign on Friday.But it continued to keep key elements of its operation cloaked in secrecy. The filings it submitted to the FEC do not reveal the identities of the group’s donors, just the money it spent.
- In a campaign finance system that is often defined by its opaqueness, Ohio First PAC’s operations stand out for their intense secrecy.
- Ohio First jumped into the state’s Republican Senate primary more than a month before voters went to the polls in early May.
- But Ohio First didn’t file that pre-primary report, which was due on April 26. Neither did it file any disclosures of those independent expenditures, which were due within 24 hours of the expenditures being made. Instead, it waited to June 29 to alert regulators to its campaign activities.
- “The Super PAC is going to have to pay an administrative fine for the late filing of the Pre-Primary Report and each of the late 24-hour reports would be a separate FECA violation,” predicted Brett Kappel, a campaign finance attorney with the firm Ackerman. I would be very surprised if a complaint isn’t filed with the FEC.”
- More practically, the result of its untimely filings was that Republican voters went to the polls in last month’s primary, which Renacci won, without access to public records about who was spending money attempting to influence their votes.
- Voters only now know that a mysterious group was working on Renaccis’ behalf. But they still don’t know who was funding those efforts.
- Ohio First, which shares its name with a Renacci campaign slogan, officially formed early this year, according to records filed with the FEC, but its ties to the candidate appear to go back further. Last fall, when Renacci was running for governor, he told the Dayton Daily News that he was “aligned with the Ohio First PAC to advance his agenda, and it has raised…$235,000.”
Read the full story here.
Cleveland.com: Secretive pro-Renacci organization violated disclosure laws, complaint says
Sabrina Eaton - July 25, 2018
- A secretive political action committee that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost Jim Renacci’s U.S. Senate campaign broke the law by waiting months to disclose its activities in May’s Ohio primary, says a complaint filed at the Federal Election Commission.
- The complaint says Ohio First PAC ‘s delayed disclosures not only violated federal law, “but also robbed Ohio Republican voters of the opportunity to know who was attempting to influence their votes before they cast those votes.”
Disclosure forms that the group was supposed to filed at the Federal Election Commission before the May 8 primary, and within 24 and 48 hours of the incurred expenses, didn’t show up until June 29, nearly two months after the election.
- Ohio First PAC’s most recent FEC filings show that it has raised $79,200 and accumulated nearly $600,000 in debts to vendors. Its large donors included two mining supply companies - Swanson Industries of West Virginia, which gave $30,000 and GMS Mine Repair and Maintenance Inc, of Maryland - which gave $10,000. It got $20,000 from Illinois Republican donor Richard Colburn, and $15,000 from the Ancora Group of Cleveland, a family wealth planning company.
Read the full story here.
Politico Pro: Complaints point to increase in shady super PACs
Maggie Severns - August 10, 2018
- Super PACs are increasingly ignoring their duty to disclose their spending to the FEC, according the watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, which is filing three complaints asking the FEC to crack down.
- The complaints highlight super PACs created during this cycle’s primary elections, which spent money but sidestepped rules for reporting how much they spent with the FEC, leaving voters in the dark on who funded the efforts. They are just part of a trend of bad behavior in the super PAC space, Campaign Legal Center says.
- The new FEC complaints shared with POLITICO focus on three super PACs: Ohio First, which spent $600,000 in favor of Republican Jim Renacci in the Ohio Senate contest; Principles First, which spent $50,000 against Republican Matt Rosendale in Montana; and Keep El Paso Honest, which worked against the primary nomination of Democrat Veronica Escobar in Texas’ 16th Congressional District.