Elections complaint filed against Butler County lawmaker

Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, is running for the Ohio Senate. PROVIDED

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Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, is running for the Ohio Senate. PROVIDED

A Butler County resident says an Ohio Senate candidate violated election laws when her son allegedly created a website against one of her opponents.

This is the latest in a contentious campaign for the 4th Ohio Senate District. Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., claim the other and their supporters are spreading lies and half-truths about the other. West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong is the third Republican seeking the open Senate seat.

The Ohio Elections Commission has confirmed they received the complaint about Keller’s campaign from the Butler County resident earlier this week. In the complaint, it’s alleged Keller’s adult son had been paid $207 on Feb. 1 for reimbursement of a web domain.

MORE: Journal-News Election Coverage

The complaint claims the work was for the site www.lyinlang.com, a term Keller used in a Facebook video disputing claims in an anti-Keller mailer.

“In fact, as documentation set forth was created by Candice Keller’s son,” according to the complaint, which goes on to call Keller’s son “an authorized agent” for her campaign.

“After (Keller) created the fact ‘independent’ website of Exhibit A, (Keller) Respondent sent the negative campaign mailer … encouraging recipients to log onto DynusScandal.com,” according to the campaign.

An independent check of the web registration for lyinglang.com and DynusScandal.com shows both websites were created and updated using the same host on the same day, Feb. 21, within several minutes of each other. Page information on lyinlang.com shows it was encrypted the day it was created, but the complaint shows Keller’s son via screengrabs as the author of the page.

Keller’s campaign website is votecandicekeller.com, but that was created in August 2015 and updated in July 2019.

Ohio law claims a "readable disclaimer must appear on almost everything that is created in an attempt to influence an election," But it states that individuals "acting alone" disseminating material are not required to include a disclaimer, said Ohio Secretary of State spokeswoman Maggie Sheehan.

“It’s important to note that candidates are not considered individuals for this purpose,” she said.

Keller disputes the allegations made in the OEC complaint.

“It’s just another way of George slandering me because it is all a lie,” she said to the Journal-News.

Both point out the other's voting record about pro-life non-support. Keller said Lang voted "to keep abortion in Ohio's insurance plans," while Lang said Keller voted against Ohio's biennium budget, which was praised as "historic" by Ohio Right to Life.

Lang is endorsed by Ohio Right to Life, though Cincinnati Right to Life endorses Keller.

Lang, as well as some of his supporters on social media, also accuses Keller of running the Community Pregnancy Center in the red, the Middletown Republican said.

According to tax records, the Community Pregnancy Center's expenses have out-paced donations between the 2013 and 2017 tax years, the latest available data.

“I think the people who generously donate to the non-profit organization she runs would be stunned to know their donations may be being spent not on the agency’s mission, but on attacking a political opponent,” Lang said.

Election Day is on Tuesday, March 17. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. In-office early voting at the Butler County Board of Elections is going on now until 2 p.m. Monday, March 16.

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