MASON, Ohio — A Mason city councilman was reprimanded by the Ohio Ethics Commission for failing to disclose several properties he owned or had financial interests in on his personal financial disclosure statement, according to a settlement agreement from January 2022.
The settlement says Ashley Chance had ownership interests in several properties and businesses he didn't disclose between 2017 and 2020. Chance was appointed to Mason's city council in 2015 and was later elected to the role in 2017 and again in 2021.
The failure to disclose financial interests when elected to a public position is a violation of Ohio Revised Code 102.02 section D, which states "all fee simple and leasehold interests to which the person filing the statement holds legal title to or a beneficial interest in real property located within the state, excluding the person's residents and property used primarily for personal recreation."
According to the settlement, Chance and a business partner started Eco Development LLC in 2011, Eco Logistics LLC in 2015 and Eco Investment Group, LLC in 2017. Chance told the Ethics Commission those companies were real estate holding companies, the settlement says. In 2020, Chance and his partner formed Eco Partner Solutions LLC, which operated as a parent company of the other three.
Chance also started several different businesses in his time as a Mason councilman, including an LLC for his brother, a company to develop an application assisting disabled drivers and an apparel company set up to create a Christian clothing line, the settlement says.
The Ohio Ethics Commission said Chance reported several of those companies had dissolved or were inactive and for many Chance had a fiduciary interest in the company and received no income from the business' operation.
The commission ultimately determined that, while Chance did violate the Ohio Revised Code by neglecting to report the businesses he owned from which he did receive income, no prosecution would be pursued. The commission decided to only issue a reprimand to Chance after he was cooperative with their investigation and agreed to amend his disclosures for the years he was found to be in violation.
As a result, Chance must accurately report all financial avenues from each business in which he has financial holdings moving forward, or the Ethics Commission can rescind the settlement agreement and possibly pursue prosecution.
"Chance further agrees he will not make any public argument in defense of the acknowledgement contained in this settlement agreement by stating he did not do anything wrong, that the facts do not support a potential violation of the Ohio Ethics Law, or that the resolution of this matter is legally or factually deficient for any reason due to the investigation or processes of the Ethics Commission," reads the settlement.
The settlement was signed by Chance and Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, on February 16, 2022.