CINCINNATI -- Neither Democratic House candidate Aftab Pureval nor campaign manager Sarah Topy has time to testify before the Ohio Elections Commission about allegations their federal campaign spent money meant for a local one until after the Nov. 6 general election, according to a motion filed Thursday afternoon.
"In light of Respondent Pureval’s rigorous Clerk and campaign schedule in the remaining days before the November 6, 2018 election, it would be extraordinarily burdensome for him to spend any amount of time during this period preparing to give testimony and traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to attend the Commission’s hearing in Columbus, Ohio," the motion stated.
Included in the filing were examples of Pureval and Topy’s scheduled commitments for the proposed Nov. 1 court date, including a visit to the Bond Hill Community Center, a lunch with supporters in Mason and the 2018 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Gala. The motion argued many of these events could not be rescheduled, and missing them would damage Pureval's campaign at a critical juncture.
In a second motion, the Pureval campaign argued a Nov. 1 court date would not allow the necessary time for due process and discovery.
Pureval, who scored a 2016 upset victory over Tracy Winkler to become the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, hopes to end incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Chabot’s tenure representing Ohio’s 1st Congressional District.
However, accusations he used county campaign money for expenditures applying only to his federal campaign have dogged his steps and featured heavily in pro-Chabot advertisements. (The second motion mentioned this, asserting "there is no doubt that Respondent Pureval's mere presence at the hearing will be used in negative political ads.")
Primarily at issue is a $16,427 check cut from a clerk of courts re-election campaign account to pay political research firm GBA Strategies for polling services. The memo line on that check read “poll balance” and was redacted by a member of the Hamilton County Board of Elections at Topy’s request.
Sally Krisel, the member in question, said after the discovery she had performed the redaction as a courtesy but recognized in retrospect she should have asked Topy to do it herself. Some local Republicans argued the act represented Krisel deliberately aiding Democrats.
Pureval has repeatedly claimed the polling was conducted to measure his chances of re-election within Hamilton County as well as his prospects if he were to launch a federal campaign, and he paid for it out of both accounts at the advice of his lawyers.
"If it turns out that we were incorrect, we'll remedy the situation immediately," he said in a Wednesday evening debate.
As long as 'immediately' begins Nov. 7.