Following the lead of many in her party, Democrat Anita Lopez called on a candidate in Ohio to return campaign contributions from GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe.
Ms. Lopez, the county recorder who is running for county auditor against incumbent Larry Kaczala, said he has received more than $10,000 in campaign donations from Tom and Bernadette Noe - during his 2003 bid for Congress and during county auditor races.
She challenged him to "do the right thing" and return the campaign funds given to him by Noe, who was convicted of violating federal campaign contribution laws and is accused of stealing from a $50 million rare-coin investment financed by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
Mr. Kaczala countered by saying that he has never been involved in the Noe investigation and that the funds he received from the Noes were contributions from Mrs. Noe, who was the Lucas County Republican Party chairman at the time.
"If [Ms. Lopez is] going to take it to me, then she has to be just as careful," he said, pointing to the contributions that Democrats such as former county Commissioner Sandy Isenberg and Toledo City Councilman Bob McCloskey made to Ms. Lopez's campaign.
Ms. Lopez said she received a total of $250 from the two during previous campaigns. Both Democratic leaders faced scandal - Ms. Isenberg for seemingly accepting a roof from a Republican developer who had appeared before her on two Lucas County planning commission votes and McCloskey for bribery convictions that led to a 27-month federal prison term.
"They are not in the same category as Tom Noe, but regardless ... I won't wait for a call to do the right thing, I will do it," she said yesterday. "The question is, is Larry Kaczala going to do the right thing?"
The volley of words was the most heated of a race that has so far seen little action. Ms. Lopez held a morning news conference while Mr. Kaczala held an afternoon one where he reminded property owners to review their new values and encouraged those owners of homes destroyed or damaged by the summer flooding to claim a reduction in the taxable value of their property.
Mr. Kaczala said the values are not set until December and that property owners who disagree with the auditor's information are encouraged to request an informal review.
Mr. Kaczala then responded to Ms. Lopez's demand that he return Noe contributions, adding that a lesson learned during the statewide scandal is to avoid one-party rule, which would be in place in Lucas County if he is not returned to office.
He acknowledged receiving $4,000 from Noe for his failed 2004 congressional campaign but said that since that account is now closed, he can no longer add or take money from it under federal law.
He initially denied receiving money from the Noes for his auditor's campaign, though records show that Noe contributed $3,500 to Mr. Kaczala's campaign for auditor in 2002.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Toledo sentenced Noe to 27 months in prison and a $136,200 fine for violating federal campaign laws. Noe gave more than $45,000 to 24 people who bought tickets to a Bush-Cheney fund-raiser in Columbus in 2003.
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