COLUMBUS, Ohio – The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) on Wednesday defended the party’s financial support of incumbent Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost to the Ohio GOP’s State Central Committee members in response to stories by The Ohio Star about the funding of unendorsed candidates for the 2022 election cycle.

GOP Chairman Bob Paduchik called contributions and in-kind payments totaling $870,968 to the DeWine campaign through late July and more than $611,800 year-to-date contributions to the Dave Yost for Ohio campaign from the Central Committee’s State Candidate Fund (SCF) part of “a long-standing tradition of supporting incumbent Republican officeholders” in the August 11 letter emailed to the 66 members of the State Central Committee.

“This year,  the ORP has made SCF expenditures to two incumbent office holders, Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost,” Paduchik wrote. “Those expenditures are lawful and proper and are made at the Chairman’s discretion.”

The DeWine Husted for Ohio campaign in late July received $500,000 from the state candidate fund while Yost received $499,689 in mid-January. The party contributed the balance support for the elected officials as in-kind expenses covering such expenses as payroll and office space for the campaigns.

“These type of in-kind contributions have also been a long-standing practice for the ORP and are also made at the Chairman’s discretion,” Paduchik wrote.

Neither Paduchik nor David W. Johnson, a senior central committee member now in a second term as Ohio GOP treasurer, returned messages seeking further information on the basis of Paduchik’s discretionary spending authority.

However, Article 4, Section 4 of the ORP’s bylaws states, in part, “The Fiscal Review Committee shall consider and approve the budget, pass upon recommendations to the Chairman as to staff salaries, authorize expenditures and arrange for the collection of funds.”

The Star this week published a resolution from the grassroots nonprofit Committee for a Better Ohio challenging the donations as tacit party endorsements of the campaigns before the State Central Committee has a chance to vote on endorsements. DeWine has two challengers – Jim Renacci of suburban Cleveland and Joe Blystone of suburban Columbus – seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

The central committee could consider formal endorsement as early as its September 10 meeting.

Jon Morrow, policy director of the Better Ohio nonprofit, described the GOP chairman’s response as “nothing to see here people – just move along” in an email sent to The Star.

The grassroots organization reacted to specific parts of Paduchik’s letter on its website.

“Each (central committee) is a new committee (every two years) and there is not such a thing as a longstanding tradition as far as the law goes,” the statement reads. “The SCC bylaws regulate how obligations are made and the discretion of the chairman is not one of them.”

The organization also rebuffed Paduchik’s assertion in the letter sent to central committee members that those opposing the contributions “do not have the best interest in the well-being of the Ohio Republican Party.”

“The motivations of the Committee for a Better Ohio are simple,” the online statement reads. “We want a level playing field, honesty, integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior. These simple policies allow organizations to flourish and engender trust.”

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Brian Ball is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send tips to bball@theohiostar.com.
Photo “Bob Paduchik” by Donald Trump.