At a hearing today in Columbus, the Ohio Election Commission voted 4-3 that Democratic congressional hopeful Aftab Pureval's campaign violated campaign finance laws and will be fined $100 for paying a photographer who captured his congressional campaign launch with funds from his clerk of courts campaign.
The commission won't punish Pureval for another part of the complaint brought by conservative activist Mark Miller and his attorney Chris Finney around use of $16,400 from the clerk of courts campaign for polling. The body, made up of three Republicans, three Democrats and an independent, voted 4-3 against concluding there was a violation, and then voted the same way against concluding there wasn't, according to tweets from media present. They dismissed the complaint, unable to agree.
Pureval's former campaign manager, Sarah Topy, said that the payment to the photographer was "a mistake." According to Topy, she paid photographer Mark Byron $360 using a Venmo account linked to credit cards from both campaigns. She selected the wrong card, she says.
Topy also said the polling was paid for by both the clerk of courts and congressional campaigns and served for both. Finney argued that there weren't any questions related to a clerk of courts race that won't happen until 2020 — an assertion Pureval and Topy contest.
Pureval says the poll was used to decide whether to stay the course in his current office or seek Chabot's seat.
The commission also dismissed an allegation that Pureval's campaign did not adequately report its spending.
Allegations around the campaign finance violation have been flying in the tough race between Pureval and Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. Pureval, once considered a strong opponent against Chabot, has slipped in recent polls.
The campaign faces another complaint before the Election Commission around allegations that a Pureval campaign volunteer attempted to infiltrate the Chabot campaign and hack campaign data.
Amid the turbulence surrounding Pureval's campaign, Topy resigned yesterday and two other staffers were dismissed.