A decision by the Ohio Elections Commission against the Stow-Munroe Falls School District Levy Committee for a violation in filing its campaign finance report has been upheld by the courts.
A Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge recently ruled against the levy committee in its appeal of the commission's 2011 ruling that the committee had failed to report an in-kind contribution from the school district on its campaign finance report, filed with the Summit County Board of Elections.
The commission had ruled that the approximately $20,000 paid by the district for the committee's legal fees from an earlier complaint should have been recorded as in-kind contribution on the report.
Those legal fees had resulted from a 2009 complaint the committee filed with the elections commission, alleging numerous election violations by the political action committee, Stow Citizens for Responsible Government.
According to the court records, the school district "formally intervened" in those proceedings in 2010. Stow Citizens for Responsible Government later stipulated to certain violations.
In July 2011, Rodney Armstrong, who was elected to the School Board in November 2011, filed a complaint with the elections commission alleging the levy committee had violated election laws by failing to include an in-kind contribution on the committee's finance report for the district-paid legal fees.
The elections commission decided later that year a violation had taken place, but decided not to impose a fine or refer the levy committee for prosecution.
The levy committee filed its appeal with the Franklin County court, which handles any appeals of the commission's decisions.
Jacquie Mazziotta, spokesperson for the district, sent a statement saying, "The district is weighing alternatives in terms of appealing the 2011 Elections Commission Decision affirmed by the Franklin County Common Pleas Court."
Warner Mendenhall, attorney for Armstrong, said he would be surprised at an appeal by the district of the court's ruling, as the court has shown its "bias" toward "letting the public know how the district is spending money, how money is flowing into the levy committee."