• Chris Stanley

Calling on Cutrona to Explain Questionable Contributions

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Contact: Chris Stanley, 330- 509-8907

Chris Stanley calls on Cutrona to explain questionable contributions from Householder cronies, Ohio GOP

Stanley: The people of the 59th District want, need, and deserve accountability and transparency. Those two words aren’t in my opponent’s vocabulary.”

In 2018 Larry Householder bought the 59th District Ohio House seat by laundering nearly $50,000 in dark money through the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee State Candidate Fund. The money was used to launch a last-minute, ethnic slur-filled negative campaign against Democrat Eric Ungaro.

Earlier this year Householder, who has been indicted for masterminding the largest bribery scheme in the history of Ohio politics, sold the 59th District seat to Al Cutrona for $50,000. Now recently filed pre-general election campaign finance reports reveal that the Ohio Republican Party and close associates of the disgraced former Speaker of the House have contributed nearly $200,000 to Cutrona. True to form, the huge contributions are being used to run a deceptive campaign against Chris Stanley, Cutrona’s Democratic challenger.

“I’m certainly not surprised that my opponent and the Republicans are engaged in gutter politics or that they believe they can buy the seat,” Mr. Stanley said after reviewing the campaign finance reports. “But we should all be concerned about the source of the funds because much of it comes directly from Householder or members of the House who were directly involved in the HB6/First Energy bribery scandal. The situation raises serious questions about whether my opponent will work for the best interests of the people of the 59th District or be a puppet who dances on strings controlled by those who are dumping huge amounts of money into his campaign.”

According to reports filed on October 22, the ORP has made in-kind contributions totaling $135,803.25 to Cutrona. The money includes more than $300,000 in Householder-raised funds transferred from the Republican Caucus campaign committee to the ORP. The money has been used to produce and mail ten negative, deceptive literature pieces. Responding to criticism about the negative mailers, Cutrona shirked responsibility and said “…they came from the state party, not from my campaign.”

“His admission that the ORP is in complete control of his campaign underscores the fact that he will continue to do the bidding of the corrupt Republicans who have hung a “For Sale” sign on the Statehouse,” Mr. Stanley said. “Just look at his record since he was appointed by Householder: he joined Householder and the extremists in the House when they voted to protect the Confederate flag, supported legislation that both undermined our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 and drove Dr. Amy Acton out of the Ohio Department of Health, refused to expel Householder from the House, and derailed Democratic efforts to repeal HB 6.”

“The people of the 59th District have the right to know whether my opponent will be working for them or for the Republicans who put him in office and the special interests who fund his and other GOP campaigns,” Mr. Stanley commented. “I think his actions make the answer clear—he won’t be working for us.”

In addition to the large in-kind contributions from the ORP, nearly 40% of the direct contributions Cutrona received came from three Republican House members with deep ties to Householder who were directly involved in drafting and passing HB 6 and the FE bribery scheme. They are:

89th District Rep. Jay Edwards of Athens, House Majority Whip gave Cutrona $13,250, the maximum allowed under Ohio law. In 2019 Edwards, who was a member of “Team Householder,” the operation that helped the now-indicted speaker win control of the House, contributed $200,000 to Householder’s leadership PAC in 2019. He has been identified as Representative #8 in the HB 6 federal indictment and attended at least one meeting where Householder, lobbyist Neil Clark, and others asked people seeking financial support from the state to contribute to the effort to derail the repeal of the First Energy bailout. Edwards has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from First Energy and other special interests that supported HB 6.

30th District Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, the Majority Floor Leader, contributed $13,000. Seitz was one of the primary architects of HB 6, a leader of efforts to weaken the ability of the governor and medical professionals to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and was implicated in a sexual harassment scandal. Seitz owns stock in one of the companies that will benefit from HB 6 and has received nearly $50,000 in contributions from First Energy. He is opposed to the repeal of the FE bailout.

95th District Rep. Don Jones contributed $10,000. A member of Team Householder he accepted more than $24,000 in contributions from Householder in 2018, voted to make him Speaker and voted for HB 6.

91st District Rep. Shane Wilkin contributed $5,000. Wilkin, a member of Team Householder who received substantial financial contributions from Householder and FE in 2018, co-sponsored HB 6 and has opposed efforts to repeal the legislation.

“My opponent’s willingness to accept huge contributions from people directly involved in or tainted by the Householder/FE bribery scheme is, in a word, detestable,” Mr. Stanley said. “These people sold their offices and their votes in exchange for campaign contributions. As a result, First Energy got a billion dollars and consumers and businesses in Ohio are getting higher electric bills. It’s a travesty and a tragedy.”

“He needs to explain why he accepted these contributions and why he is allowing the Ohio Republican Party to use dirty money to conduct his campaign,” Mr. Stanley said. “But, if past performance is an indicator, we won’t hear a word from him. He’s been hiding behind the ORP for months. He refused to complete campaign questionnaires, refused to reveal his contributors until required by law, and continues to refuse to address the critical issues facing our community and our state. The people of the 59th District want, need, and deserve accountability and transparency. Those two words aren’t in my opponent’s vocabulary.”

For more information, please contact Chris Stanley at (330) 509-8907.

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