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Published: Thursday, 10/28/2010

Panel to probe ad claims in Ohio treasurer race


COLUMBUS, Ohio — A panel of the Ohio Elections Commission said Thursday its members will further examine separate complaints from both Ohio treasurer candidates to see whether some of their campaign materials contain false statements.

Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce faces Republican state Rep. Josh Mandel in Tuesday's election. The two have been sparring over everything from ethics to television ads to campaign e-mails in an unusually nasty race.

A Mandel ad and Ohio GOP mailers question the relationship of Boyce's top deputy to a bank lobbyist. They emphasize the lobbyist's first name — Mohammed — and suggest he and Boyce attend the same mosque, though Boyce is Christian.

The commercial and mailers also focus on how the lobbyist's wife was hired to work in Boyce's office, saying the job was advertised only at “their mosque.”

Lawyers for Boyce, a Democrat, had sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mandel, saying the TV spot has led to threats against his top deputy, Amer Ahmad, and Ahmad's wife and children.

The commission's probable cause panel questioned the ads' references to the job only being announced at “their mosque” and Boyce's hiring of the woman. The members said the allegations should have a hearing before the full commission.

The panel also ruled that an e-mail from Boyce regarding Mandel's position on job growth deserves a hearing by the full body.

In the e-mail, Boyce claims his opponent said the treasurer position “doesn't have a role in helping to create and retain jobs in Ohio.” Mandel's campaign says he never made those remarks.

Commission executive director Philip Richter said he has not determined whether the hearings will be held before Election Day.

Boyce, a former Columbus city councilman, faces a strong challenge from Mandel, an Iraq war veteran. Mandel has outraised and outspent the incumbent treasurer. Mandel also has more cash on hand to spend in the final days of the race than Boyce.

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