MOUNT VERNON — Former Mount Vernon School Board candidate Robert Kirk is scheduled to appear before the Ohio Elections Commission Jan. 21 in regard to a complaint filed claiming he took corporate donations during his campaign.
Ohio law prohibits campaign contributions from profit and nonprofit corporations. According to Phil Richter, executive director of the Ohio Elections Commission, limited liability corporations are not included in the definition of a corporation, making those contributions legal.
Kirk’s campaign committee accepted $250 from a limited liability corporation, which is acceptable; it also accepted $500 from Ellis Brothers Inc, $250 from Robertson Truck Sales Inc., and $250 from Custom Cutters.
Rob Broeren, Mount Vernon City assistant law director, confirmed he filed the complaint on behalf of the city Law Director’s Office.
“The Law Director’s Office came into possession of certain evidence; it was sent on to the Ohio Elections Commission,” Broeren said.
Broeren said the complaint was filed by the office because the city law director’s office prosecutes all misdemeanor actions in the county.
According to Richter, Kirk will have the opportunity to submit a response to the complaint.
“In advance of the meeting, I will review the information and make a recommendation to the full commission,” Richter said.
The seven-member commission will meet Jan. 21 to hear Richter’s recommendation and rule on the complaint.
Possible outcomes are a finding of no violation; finding of a violation, after which a penalty will be imposed; or a hearing can be set for mid-summer to acquire additional information.
Kirk filed an amended campaign finance report after the pre-general deadline, according to Kim Horn, director of the Knox County Board of Elections.
“The amended report was not required to be filed because he did not file anything incorrectly,” Horn said.
Kirk later sent in a letter requesting the board to disregard the amended version.
Horn said election candidates receive a packet of information with election information. Included in that, Horn said, is information explaining what campaign contributions are and are not acceptable.
According to Kirk, his committee refunded the $1,250 to the unsolicited contributors on Oct. 24. He confirmed he filed an amended campaign finance report to reflect those refunds.
“There is no way I would have accepted those contributions if I knew they were not allowed,” Kirk said.
Kirk has yet to be formally informed of the scheduled meeting with the Ohio Elections Commission, but said any further statements would be made from his attorney.
When asked if his experience during this election would deter him from running again, Kirk said this would be his last campaign.
“My goal was to help the situation and for the experience to be positive. It all has been negative. I’ll never run again,” he said.