August 13, 2018
Finney law firm filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against Aftab Pureval, his campaign committee, and the treasurer, Evan Nolan.
The complaint points to receipts and expenditures by his Clerk of Courts Campaign that are obviously related to his congressional run. Federal and State law prohibit redirecting state campaign funds to a federal campaign.
Federal law limits contributions to Pureval’s federal campaign to $5,400, but contributions to the clerk of court’s campaign are unlimited. In an effort to take advantage of Ohio’s lack of contribution limits for clerk of courts campaigns, this year alone Pureval’s mother has donated $30,000 to the clerk of court’s campaign, and almost all of that money has been spent in support of Pureval’s congressional race.
But even before he announced his run for Congress, Pureval was spending his clerk of court’s campaign funds improperly. In the summer of 2017, just after taking his current job, he was traveling across the country testing the waters for a Congressional run. Those travel costs included airfare and a hotel stays in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia.
As first reported in this Cincinnati Enquirer story, dual campaigns can be legal, but the two must remain separate. While Pureval’s D.C. attorneys suggest that “dividing” costs can be done legally, a review of the state and federal campaign reports makes clear that the two campaigns are not dividing joint costs; the clerk of court’s campaign account has simply been placed into the service of the congressional campaign.
Since announcing his run for Congress, Pureval has used his clerk of court’s campaign fund to pay for a photographer to document his congressional campaign kickoff (footage that has been used in his campaign commercials); $16,000 for polling; a congressional campaign staffer; and thousands of dollars for travel.
The complaint, filed with the Ohio Election Commission on Friday, sets forth violations of three sections of Ohio campaign finance law: converting contributions to clerk of courts campaign to the use of the federal campaign, and to other third parties; failure to file accurate reports of receipts; and failure to file accurate reports of expenditures.
In 2017, An Ohio judge was sentenced to ten days in jail for improper expenditures from his campaign account, paying for expensive meals and cigars.
Also in 2017, a California man was sentenced to one year in prison after organizing a money laundering scheme to support his son’s run for Congress.
We expect that a full investigation will reveal that this was not a mere “bookkeeping mistake” or “dividing costs” but was part of a calculated plan to evade federal and state campaign finance laws and illegally finance his congressional race.
Read the complaint on Scribd here or below.
Read the Cincinnati Enquirer’s coverage here.