COLUMBUS - After The Blade reported last week that state Sen. Marc Dann would return $60,000 in campaign contributions from the Lucarelli family and their associates who operate a Cleveland-based medical-care organization, state Auditor Betty Montgomery's campaign for attorney general accused her opponent of accepting money from a convicted racketeer.
What the Montgomery campaign didn't realize was that $10,000 of the contributions came not from Samuel G. Lucarelli, who was convicted in 1989 on racketeering charges - but from his son, Samuel L. Lucarelli.
Mr. Dann urged Ms. Montgomery to apologize for falsely claiming that the Democrat took money from a convicted racketeer.
Ms. Montgomery's campaign said it would no longer press the issue.
The back-and-forth over the Lucarelli contributions has intensified the sparring in a contentious race for attorney general that pits Ms. Montgomery, a former two-term Republican attorney general, against Mr. Dann, a state senator from suburban Youngstown who raised his profile as an early critic of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation investment practices.
The Blade's analysis published last week said the members of the Lucarelli family and their associates have contributed at least $218,000 to Ohio political candidates and that their company, 1-888-OhioComp, had received about $29 million from the Bureau of Workers' Compensation for providing managed care services to thousands of state employers.
Last week, after being contacted by The Blade, Mr. Dann decided to return $60,000 in contributions he had received from the associates of 1-888-OhioComp, which provides managed services for Ohio employers through a Workers' Compensation program.
The Blade reported last week that dozens of managed-care firms have collected $1.374 billion from the bureau since 1997, and the executives and associates of the managed-care operations have contributed at least $610,000 to political candidates.
On Sept. 7 and at a news conference the following day, Mr. Dann said he would return the contributions he had received from the associates of 1-888-OhioComp in case he was charged with examining the bureau's managed-care system as attorney general.
Mr. Dann said he was returning the contributions to maintain impartiality, not because 1-888-OhioComp had done anything wrong.
In a Sept. 8 press release and a statement released on Wednesday, Ms. Montgomery's campaign referred to Mr. Dann accepting $60,000 in campaign contributions from "convicted racketeer Sam Lucarelli and members of his family."
In a letter on Wednesday, Jason Lucarelli, the president of 1-888-OhioComp, wrote that Samuel G. Lucarelli is his father and Samuel L. Lucarelli is his brother.
Jen Detwiler, a spokesman for Ms. Montgomery, said yesterday: "We had every indication to believe it was Samuel G. Lucarelli. Marc Dann for six days did not deny that fact. And then in his statement [Wednesday], he does."
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