Reports: Butler County state Senate candidate loans campaign $90K

Two of the three people running for the Republican Party’s 2020 4th Ohio Senate District nomination showed sizable campaign war chests after the first six months of 2019.

A large amount of 53rd Ohio House District Rep. Candice Keller’s campaign cash came from a five-figure self-loan while the majority of 52nd Ohio House District Rep. George Lang’s new money came from political action committees.

But West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong only spent money with his available cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports. Two of his four expenses went to four-figure donations — $2,000 to the Crestview Presbyterian Church and $1,200 to the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Wong's campaign finance report filed with the Ohio Secretary of State shows a negative balance. However, as of the 2018 annual report filed in Butler County he reported more than $36,600 cash on hand in his West Chester Twp. trustee finance report.

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Keller, R-Middletown, raised $6,500 in the first six months of the year, with nearly half of that raised at a June 22 fundraiser in Germantown. Outside the fundraiser, and a $500 Ohio Dental Association PAC donation, she raised $2,800 from a dozen donors.

Keller’s campaign had largely been financed by her husband, Kent Keller Sr. Before Keller’s $90,000 self loan on June 28 to her campaign, she loaned her campaign $500 in 2016. Her husband loaned nearly a collective $34,400. The campaign repaid a $3,000 loan to Keller Sr. in March.

"As the most conservative candidate running, we want to get the message out early that voters have a candidate that voted against raising the gas tax, against the HB6 bail-out, and supported the firefighters against a hostile (Emergency Management Association) takeover," she said.

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Ohio Secretary of State spokeswoman Maggie Sheehan said there are no monetary restrictions on candidates giving themselves a loan, nor is there a time frame when they must repay their self-loan. But she said, “a loan must be reported as a loan/debt … until it is repaid or forgiven.”

The biggest expense for Keller in the first half of 2019 was a $3,250 expenditure for billboards supporting the heartbeat bill that was signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this year.

With the help of her self-loan, Keller has $106,700 cash on hand.

The West Chester Twp. state lawmaker raised $10,450, and nearly three-fourths of that came from political action committees, including two law firm PACs and four insurance PACs.

Lang’s largest expense was $5,000 to the Butler County Republican Party. He also gave more than a collective $2,500 in donations to the Boys and Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty, U.C. Foundation, Miami University College Republicans and Butler County’s Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF).

Lang has $35,750 cash on hand as of the end of June and has no campaign loans.

Other state lawmaker campaign finance reports include:

• Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, raised more than $8,200 through June 30 and has nearly $11,800 cash on hand. But she still has $300,000 in self loans to her committee, most of which came during her primary race for the 51st Ohio House District in 2018.

Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., who represents the 4th Senate District, is term-limited but is seeking the 12th District Court of Appeals in 2020. He raised $4,950 through June and spent more than $20,000, more than $6,400 of which was for travel to various conferences, including the ICE Conference — a gaming technology event for business growth, development and networking — in London.

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