September 22, 2014

Elyria
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War chest may have scared off opponents, report finds

SHEFFIELD TWP. — County Engineer Ken Carney’s inflated campaign war chest may have scared away potential opponents in the 2004 election, an investigation by the Ohio secretary of state has concluded.

The state’s report, completed Monday, recommends that the county Board of Elections, which requested the review of Carney’s campaign finance reports from 2000 through 2006, forward their concerns to the Ohio Elections Commission for possible sanctions against the long-serving Democrat.

Elections board workers began looking into Carney’s campaign finance reports after a 2005 report mentioned investments dating back to 2001 that had never been disclosed.

And despite Carney filing several amended reports to address the problem, it remained unclear whose money was in the investment accounts — Carney’s or his committee’s.The state investigation concluded that the money belonged to the committee, although it was in Carney’s name.

The report, prepared by state Campaign Finance Administrator J. Curtis Mayhew, also questions what happened to small amounts of dividends earned on the money the  final use for which was never fully explained in Carney’s paperwork.

Mayhew also suggested that the elections board ask Carney to provide a detailed accounting of that money, as well as some other documents, including income summaries on the investment accounts for 2002 and 2003.

The report notes that it’s not uncommon for campaigns to invest extra cash to try to raise money, but in Carney’s case it led to his overstating how much money he had in the bank.

According to Mayhew, Carney overstated how much he had by $63,000 in his annual 2002 report and by $52,800 in his 2003 annual report filed in January 2004.

Carney, long considered having massive resources that could fend off challengers to his position, has denied wrongdoing in the case, but did not return calls Monday.

Elections board Director Jose Candelario said he will review the report and present it to the full board before any decision will be made.

Contact Brad Dicken at 653-6258 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.