COLUMBUS, Ohio — The manager of State Rep. Bill Reineke’s campaign for Ohio Senate released a statement Friday in which he slammed the campaign of Reineke’s Republican primary opponent, Melissa Ackison, calling it a “sham from the very beginning.”
“Yesterday and throughout the course of this campaign, Melissa Ackison has failed to take responsibility for her lack of endorsements, her lack of support, and now for breaking Ohio law. Melissa Ackison’s campaign has been a sham from the very beginning, and the Election Commission’s decisions yesterday are yet another glaring example that she is completely unqualified to be in the Ohio Senate,” Reineke campaign manager Caleb Stidham said in a written statement.
“Personal responsibility matters. Mrs. Ackison should have accepted responsibility for her illegal campaign activity from the beginning and should donate every penny of the illegal contributions to a worthwhile charity immediately,” Stidham continued.
The statement from Stidham was in response to hearings that took place Thursday in Columbus at the Ohio Elections Commission, where multiple complaints were filed by operatives for Reineke’s campaign against Ackison.
Stidham’s statement also suggests that Ackison was fined or otherwise punished by the Ohio Elections Commission for the complaints against her, but this is not the case.
The complaints were filed by James Cline, of Tiffin, and Chelsea Wynegar, of Marysville, both of whom have connections to Reineke’s campaign for the 26th district Ohio Senate seat.
A staff attorney for the Ohio Elections Commission told TiffinOhio.net News that the board ultimately ruled on Thursday that Ackison would not be fined for the actions outlined in the complaints, essentially regarding them as honest mistakes.
The complaints involved the omission of the required “Paid for by…” disclaimer on some campaign materials, late filing of a designation of treasurer form, and failing to file complete and accurate paperwork with the OEC.
Melissa Ackison told TiffinOhio.net News that Cline and Wynegar weren’t even present at the OEC hearing, instead opting for Bill Reineke’s campaign attorneys to represent them.
“The hearing was an absolute success for the Ackison for Ohio campaign. Some of the charges were actually dismissed, and I believe the commission decided my honesty in my responses to them is the exact reason why I didn’t receive any fines yesterday,” Ackison said.
“Bill is responding as any spoiled brat would. He had his inept campaign manager produce an embarrassing press release because the attorneys they sent to represent them failed miserably at having me fined in hopes of draining my account from hard-earned contributions from those who support me in district 26,” she continued.
Ackison said she understands that Reineke is “scared” of her candidacy, and says “he should be.”
“I’m breathing down the back of his neck right now,” Ackison said. “I’ve seen desperation before, but to go out and lie about your opponent breaking the law is just embarrassing.”
“When the hearing transcripts are publicly available, I demand that Reineke and his staff of buffoons issue a statement retracting these absurdities,” Ackison continued. “What will Bill and his inept campaign manager do when the recorded transcripts come out, debunking a press release full of lies and desperation? How will you spin that level of incompetence and stupidity?”
The 26th district is currently represented by Sen. Dave Burke, of Marysville, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. Burke has endorsed Reineke’s bid for the seat.
Ackison was recently endorsed by the Ohio chapter of Bikers For Trump.
The district contains Seneca, Sandusky, Morrow, Marion, Crawford, Wyandot, and Union counties, an area which Ackison refers to as “God’s country.”
The primary election will take place in March 2020.
Attempts to reach Bill Reineke’s campaign for additional comment were unsuccessful.