Toledo mayoral candidate Joe McNamara today blasted one of his chief opponents for having government employees at an event to announce her candidacy.
Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, who has run for and won three elective offices, kicked off her campaign April 16 with about 300 people in the Aurora Gonzalez Community Center in South Toledo. Among the crowd were at least six county employees.
Mr. McNamara said it appeared that Ms. Lopez turned her staff into a taxpayer-funded campaign force, with county employees attending, or helping run the event. Mr. McNamara signed a pledge last week that said he would not allow government employees to work on his campaign, and have asked Ms. Lopez, and mayor Mike Bell to sign it as well.
"It's cheating the taxpayers if you are using employees to do campaign stuff," he said. "If people want to work for whomever on their own time, sure, but that is not what happened here."
Ms. Lopez said today that county employees present at the 5 p.m. event were present on their own time.
"This really sounds like Mr. McNamara trying to create media attention for a campaign that has nothing productive to say and lacks a clear vision for moving the city forward," she said.
The auditors office is open until 5 p.m. and her staff members were at the Aurora Gonzalez Community Center in South Toledo by 4:30 p.m. Ms. Lopez said she could provide time sheets to show that each of the employees were on personal time for the event. Those documents however were not available Wednesday, she said.
Billy Benner, Ms. Lopez's campaign manager who is also her county-funded part-time executive assistant was among those at the event, where he made her available for media interviews. Abby Arnold, chief of staff in Ms. Lopez's office, was at the door greeting people.
Ms. Lopez said as a supporter of free speech she would not sign Mr. McNamara's pledge.