CLEVELAND — Some of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s recent attacks against Secretary of State Jon Husted in the four-way Republican contest for Ohio governor were coordinated through a private entity called Citizens for Trump.
The Renacci campaign registered the domain name dishonestjonny.com on Sept. 5, transferred it to Citizens for Trump and discussed some of the attack website’s content with the group, Cleveland.com reports .
“In terms of content sharing, the campaign did communicate its messaging on Jon Husted,” said campaign spokesman James Slepian. “A lot of that was publicly available at the time, but the campaign did share that with Citizens for Trump when they expressed interest in launching that site.”
The revelation comes amid an increasingly fractious relationship between Renacci’s Trump-style campaign and Husted’s. The two join Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in competing for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Republican Gov. John Kasich is term limited and unable to seek re-election next year.
The Citizens for Trump website criticized Husted for not being a fan of President Donald Trump, for bringing Common Core education standards to Ohio and for overseeing a budget increase during his time as House speaker. It has since gone dark.
Slepian said such coordination is legal under Ohio election law, as long as it appears on campaign finance filings.
Citizens for Trump endorsed Renacci earlier this year. It bills itself as a grassroots organization but is part of Patriotic Strategies, a Texas-based limited liability corporation.
Ohio Elections Commission director Philip Richter confirmed that LLCs do not fall under a ban on corporations coordinating with political campaigns.
“The corporate ban is really only strictly applied to corporations,” he said. “LLCs are something of an anomaly as it relates to the corporate contribution ban. They’ve never been included in those provisions.”
Slepian declined to address whether that constitutes an elections law loophole.
“I didn’t write the law,” he said. “That’s what it says and campaigns across Ohio and across the country consistently receive contributions from LLCs. The law is the law and all we can do is follow it.”
Efforts by The Associated Press to reach Citizens for Trump weren’t immediately successful. A message seeking comment also was left with the Husted campaign.
Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com