Butler County candidate for Statehouse has yet to file required financial form

One of the four candidates for Ohio’s 51st House District seat has yet to file a legally required financial disclosure, and knowingly not doing so can result in a criminal charge.

Candidates for all Statehouse offices — which includes the House and Senate — are required to file the disclosure form with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee 30 days before the primary election. However, Sara Carruthers, who is challenging incumbent officeholder Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, and Greg Jolivette, has failed to file her financial disclosure, according to JLEC files.

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Two letters have been sent to Carruthers’ home in Hamilton, one on April 12 — three days after the filing deadline — and one by certified mail on April 27 outlining her requirement as a Statehouse candidate.

Jennifer Lockwood, JLEC general counsel, said “knowingly” failing to file would result in criminal prosecution, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, but “we would exhaust all of our administrative options first.” She said if Carruthers doesn’t respond to the second letter a third, and final notice, letter will be sent.

Carruthers is one of 17 candidates for a legislative office who have failed to file, Lockwood said.

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Carruthers, a first-time candidate, told the Journal-News via a text message on Wednesday she “would have to check with my treasurer/political attorney.” On Thursday, after attempting to get additional comments, Carruthers texted, “I haven’t heard back (from her treasurer/political attorney).”

The financial disclosure forms do not require candidates to indicate specific amounts of income, unless that source of income “is doing or seeking to do business” with the General Assembly, or is a “legislative agent.”

Carruthers is already being assessed a fine for not filing by the deadline, or filing for an extension, which is $10 per day with a maximum fine of $250.

Retherford and Jolivette filed their disclosure forms before the deadline, and Democrat Susan Vaughn, who will face one of the three Republicans in the November general election, filed hers on April 17 after filing for an extension.

Most of Retherford’s income comes from his elected office, which pays a base salary of $60,584 per year, but he is also earning income from his position as a mortician’s assistant and his military pension.

Most of Jolivette’s income comes from his business, Jolly’s restaurant on Ohio 4 in Hamilton, but the former state lawmaker and former county commissioner also receives retirement income from the state and Social Security.

Vaughn’s primary source of income is with her job at Miami University. She also receives Social Security payments.

Jolivette did initially fail to disclose a $20,000 loan he previously gave his campaign in a prior election, but filed an addendum to include that omission.

“I forgot about the campaign loan,” Jolivette said. “It was part of my campaign, and I don’t fill (a financial disclosure form) out every year.”

Jolivette’s last run for the Statehouse was against Retherford in 2014.

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