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Closure of political firm as feds investigate missing money to have "no impact" on local GOP races

Aftab Pureval and Rep. Steve Chabot clash onstage in WCPO-hosted debate
Posted at 10:54 AM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 10:54:38-04

CINCINNATI — The Hamilton County Republican party chair says the apparent closure of a political strategy firm widely used in local campaigns will have “no impact” on upcoming races.

The Facebook page for Fountain Square Group, whose principal, Jamie Schwartz, has been a longtime campaign aide to Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, has been deleted, as federal authorities investigate missing campaign money.

“We have ample help across our party and even former members of Fountain Square Group will continue to actively work on campaigns,” said GOP party chair Alex Triantafilou. “This is an is isolated incident with one person and we will move on without him. This will have no impact on our greater efforts.”

The Federal Election Commission sent a letter to Jim Schwartz, who the agency lists as Chabot’s campaign treasurer, on Aug. 27 asking why an amended campaign finance report showed a $123,625 increase in receipts that had not been disclosed on the original report.

Chabot’s campaign has until Oct. 1 to respond to the letter, said FEC deputy press officer Christian Hilland.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Mark Braden, an attorney for Chabot’s campaign, released a statement that said the congressman was "shocked and deeply disappointed” to be informed this week that his campaign committee may be the victim of financial malfeasance and misappropriation of funds.

Employees for Fountain Square Group could not be reached by phone, and one recently changed his Linked In profile employment status from vice president of Fountain Square Group, to self employed.

The firm had been doing work for several Republican campaigns, including Andy Black, who is running for Hamilton County Commission next year, and Matthew Wahlert, who is running for Colerain Township Trustee.