Miami Twp. Trustee Deborah Preston and a former political ally are on opposite sides of a campaign finance complaint under review by the Ohio Elections Commission that is scheduled to be reviewed on Thursday.
The commission board is set to review claims by Don Culp, manager of Preston’s 2009 campaign, that she misused a $5,000 contribution she told the Dayton Daily News she returned four years ago.
In the Sept. 20 complaint, Culp claims Jon Slater, heading an effort to develop a proton therapy center for cancer treatment in Miami Twp., never cashed the check for the contribution, enabling Preston to make use of the funds during the campaign.
Culp claims that on July 1, 2011, “Ms. Preston stated she had allowed the money to be used for various political purposes, returning funds to the account later – essentially floating political expenditures with these unreturned funds.”
In a recent interview, Preston dismissed the claims as “pure fiction.” The claims, she said, were the result of a dispute about reporting of campaign contributions related to Culp’s work for Mike Nolan, a Miami Twp. trustee who was defeated on Nov. 5, according to unofficial final results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Preston supported two other candidates in the election.
The Ohio Elections Commission said there was no complaint related to Culp’s work for Nolan on file. Last week, Preston did not return calls about the dispute and hadnot responded to Culp’s complaint.
Culp and Preston also worked together on 2009 campaigns leading to the election of Miamisburg Municipal Court Judge Robert Rettich and Miami Twp. Fiscal Officer Ann Culp. Don and Ann Culp are married but undergoing divorce proceedings, according to court records.
The state election complaint includes a request for an investigation by Attorney General Mike DeWine and allegations stemming from a privacy dispute, related to Don Culp’s allegations the township improperly shared health information with his wife.
Culp asked DeWine to investigate whether the sharing of the information, which he claims resulted in cancellation of his coverage through his wife’s township health insurance, violated Ohio law.
In an email, Kate Hanson of the attorney general’s office said, “the office responded to the inquiry from Mr. Culp explaining that Ohio is a home rule state and that the Attorney General’s Office does not have authority over any elected official in Miami Township and may only become involved in local matters upon a specific request by law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office. The response also included a recommendation to contact local county commissioners and perhaps an attorney.”
Federal officials did not respond to questions about Culp’s claim.
The federal complaint and call for an investigation from the attorney general’s office were included in Culp’s complaint to the Ohio Elections Commission, obtained by the Dayton Daily News.
However Philip Richter, executive director of the commission, said the election board hearing would focus on alleged violations with their jurisdiction under Ohio law.
“All we can address are the campaign finance issues he has identified,” Richter said.
Election news: Read more about last week’s election at MyDaytonDailyNews.com/election2013