Elyria mayoral hopeful faces more than $50K in penalties for not filing reports
ELYRIA — John Howard Jr., the Republican candidate running for Elyria mayor, has racked up fines from the Ohio Elections Commission totaling $53,725 and climbing.
Howard didn’t file campaign finance reports he was required to submit to the county Board of Elections in July 2005, January 2005 and July 2006, according to commission records.
He’s now accruing fines at a rate of $150 a day for every day he doesn’t submit the proper paperwork.
Commission Executive Director Phil Richter said Howard has not responded to requests from the commission to file the paperwork and if he doesn’t deal with the matter soon, it could be forwarded to the Ohio attorney general’s office, which could go as far as suing Howard to get the money.
“(There are) folks that will go literally years before we finally get their attention with the substantial amount they owe,” Richter said.
But just because Howard continues to rack up fines doesn’t mean he’ll end up paying the full amount, Richter said. Most candidates with similar problems end up cutting a deal with the state to file the correct paperwork and pay a reduced fine.
In January, Howard closed the campaign committee that he used to run against county Clerk of Courts Ron Nabakowski in 2004.
Howard’s final campaign report notes that he raised and spent $500 during his campaign to unseat Nabakowski, a Democrat.
But there are no details of where the money was spent. The only expenditure noted by Howard anywhere in his campaign finance reports was in a December 2004 report that said an $80 payment was made to Ray Noble, now the vice chairman of the Elyria Republican Party, to reimburse him for paying Howard’s fee to run for office.
Howard, who did not return calls seeking comment, opened a new campaign committee in July for his mayoral run.
Noble said as far as he’s aware, Howard properly closed down his campaign in January and that should have stopped the state fines from continuing to accrue. But Richter said his office has never been told the committee was closed.
Noble said regardless, the fines look bad for a party that lost ground in the 2006 elections because of ethics scandals in Columbus and Washington.
“I feel as though he’s embarrassing the party,” he said. “We’ve tried to rectify the situation with John, but it seems like it’s fallen on deaf ears.”
And so far, Howard doesn’t appear to have any money to back his run against Mayor Bill Grace and independent candidate Tim Quinn.
Noble said the party still hasn’t decided whether it’s going to give Howard any money to support his run, adding that he isn’t certain where Howard spent the money the party gave him to run against Nabakowski.
Dan Graves, chairman of the Elyria Republican Party, said whenever a candidate has problems, it doesn’t help a campaign.
“Anytime there’s negativity attached to a candidate, there’s always a concern,” he said.
Contact Brad Dicken 653-6358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.