Butler County statehouse candidate subject of dark money campaign

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Dark money has made its way into a Butler County statehouse race in a mailer presenting allegations and claims as facts.

As early voting began this week, a postcard started to arrive in mailboxes within the 47th Ohio House District targeting Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton. The mailer, which came from a co-working space in Hyde Park, according to the return address, references a 2019 breach of contract court case involving Carruthers’ adopted twins.

The mailer claimed Carruthers “took” a woman’s children and “threw a single mother out of her house,” allegations, among others, that were never proven to be true in court. The case never went to trial and was settled, dismissed and sealed in 2022. There is also a gag order in place, Carruthers told the Journal-News as she declined to comment.

The plaintiff was a surrogate for Carruthers, and the two sides agreed to have the native Hamiltonian adopt her children. However, the plaintiff alleged she was promised a house via an oral contract.

The promise of a home was not in the adoption contract, according to the suit.

Diane Mullins, who is running against Carruthers for the March primary election for the GOP nomination, told the Journal-News via a text message she did not send out the mailer, which does not have the required disclaimer, nor does she know who sent it out.

“I would never OK a mailer like that,” she said in the text message, adding that she wouldn’t target children in a campaign for the Ohio Statehouse.

The return address in the mailer goes to a co-working space on Erie Avenue in Hyde Park, but it’s also the same address of another mailer attacking another Ohio Republican, Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg. That earlier mailer claimed Ghanbari’s involvement in what’s been dubbed “The Blue 22 Betrayal” where 22 Ohio House Republicans voted to elect in late 2022 Rep. Jason Stephens as Speaker of the House for the General Assembly that commenced on Jan. 3, 2023.

Those 22 House Republicans went against the GOP Caucus ― the caucus supported Rep. Derek Merrin ― and placed Stephens in the position. All of the House Democrats also supported Stephens.

That mailer was sent by Virginia-based Make Liberty Win, a political action committee, that has endorsed a handful of Ohio House candidates. The Ghanbari mailer and the Carruthers mailer were paid with postage out of South Hackensack, New Jersey. The Journal-News reached out to Make Liberty Win but officials with that political organization did not respond before deadline.

Early voting in the March 19 primary election is underway and can be done by mail or visiting the Butler County Board of Elections at 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton.


Early voting in Ohio is underway and here are the in-office times registered voters can cast a ballot at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton:

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday now until March 8
  • 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 9 and March 16
  • 7:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 11 to March 15 (voting is open until 8:30 p.m. on March 12)
  • 1 to 5 p.m. March 17 (last day for in-office early voting)

To vote by mail, registered voters must request an absentee ballot be mailed (the last day to request the mailed ballot is by 8:30 p.m. March 12). Visit VoteOhio.org to request a ballot (or call the Butler County board at 513-887-3700).

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