Group against BG school levy fails to file finance report

Voters in Bowling Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

The citizens group opposed to the Bowling Green City Schools levy in May has failed to file its campaign finance report with the Wood County Board of Elections.

Friday at 4 p.m. was the statewide deadline for political action committees to file reports listing those who contributed to election efforts, and how that money was spent.

The group that supported the school levy – Citizens in Support of Our Schools, with Andy Newlove as treasurer – filed its report on Friday morning.

The group against the levy – Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax, with Grant Chamberlain as treasurer – did not submit its report by the deadline.

It is unusual for a PAC to not comply with the Ohio Revised Code requirement, said Carol DeJong, director at the Wood County Board of Elections.

“I have not had this experience with a PAC that didn’t file,” especially on such a high-profile election issue, DeJong said on Friday after the deadline passed.

The penalty for not filing can be up to $100 a day, she added.

According to the Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook, if a required report is filed late, then the county board of elections or the secretary of state must refer the PAC to the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission determines if a fine should be imposed.

Both pro and anti school levy groups filed the initial required campaign finance reports at the end of April. Those reports showed the contributions and expenditures through the period up to 20 days before the election. The post election reports due Friday are to show the money taken in and spent following the first report filed in April.

In their initial reports, the anti-levy group had raised $10,866 from nine donors. The pro-levy group had raised $14,175 from 32 donors.

In the campaign finance report filed Friday by the Citizens in Support of Our Schools, three contributions were recorded: Becca Ferguson, $100; David Codding, $2,500; and Control Systems of Ohio, $1,000.

Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton explained in April that campaign finance law requires any Political Action Committee to report its finances. The reports must include where the money comes from – both in financial contributions and in-kind donations which are products or services that benefit the cause.

The school levy was a highly controversial issue, and failed for the second time in May. Reporting of the campaign contributors raised some concerns by citizens who felt that information should be private or should not be reported until after the election.

However, the Ohio Revised Code requires the campaign contributions to be filed so the public is aware of where campaigns are getting their money and how it is spent.

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