The Republican primary for the 26th district Ohio Senate seat continued to heat up Friday as current State Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) launched a new TV attack ad against his opponent, conservative activist and small business owner Melissa Ackison (R-Marysville).
According to Caleb Stidham, campaign manager for Reineke, the new attack ad will run on TV stations throughout the 26th state senate district, which includes Sandusky, Seneca, Morrow, Marion, Union, Wyandot, and Crawford counties.
Reineke and Ackison are facing off in the March 17 primary election.
The new television ads are part of a complete package of attack advertisements from the Reineke campaign, including radio, digital, and mail.
Read a transcript of the TV ad below:
MALE NARRATOR: Melissa Ackison. More than $30,000 in unpaid taxes. The state fined Ackison’s business thousands of dollars for false advertising, practicing without a valid license, hiring a convicted felon.
MALE NARRATOR: The Trump campaign told Melissa Ackison to stop pretending Trump endorsed her. Dishonest. Corrupt. Unethical. Melissa Ackison, completely unqualified to serve in the state senate.
MALE NARRATOR: A conservative leader with character and integrity. Bill Reineke, pro-Trump, endorsed by Jim Jordan. Bill Reineke for state senate.
Ackison is a co-owner of Ackison Surveying, LLC, a Better Business Bureau-accredited company.
Ackison admitted in a Facebook Live video that her company was indeed fined $4,000 and had its license suspended temporarily.
“Coincidentally, when I was running for federal senate, surprise surprise… Institutions of government started coming out of the woodwork, and my husband was pulled in for an investigation — an investigation that lasted for 9 months,” Ackison said in the video.
Ackison defended her decision to not pay the $4,000 fine on time, which resulted in the company’s license being suspended temporarily.
“Just so you know, we are not under any level of suspension. Were we temporarily while I was going down to the House and Senate fighting for legislative reforms? You’re dang right we were. I wasn’t going to just to pay somebody money from the government who already takes far more than they deserve anyway. They’ve always got their greasy, dirty, grubby hands out asking me for more money,” Ackison continued.
“We were fined $4,000 for an infraction that the Ohio Revised Code specifies no more than $500 is to be put in place,” Ackison said. “We absolutely said, fine us, you can suspend our license, you can do whatever you want, we won’t perform surveys, but what we will do is we will fight back.”
Reineke’s campaign also attacked Ackison for “hiring a convicted felon” to do work for her business.
“The Ackison Surveying company employed John Rutter, Jr. who has three past felony convictions involving drugs and weapons and was suspended by the Board from doing surveying work,” the press release from Reineke’s campaign states.
“Bill Reineke, Dollar Bill out-of-touch Reineke, you make fun of the fact that my husband and I support a second chance program. I have in the private sector, I was an executive in the private sector, always believed that we could work with non-violent offenders or even offenders that made a mistake as long as they weren’t violent, sexual crimes, to get folks up-and-running and back to work,” Ackison said. “Yes Bill, there are people who made mistakes, and yes Bill Reineke, there are people who have paid their debt to society who are now trying to do what they can to work.”
In addition, Reineke’s press release attacked Ackison over being fined for false advertising. According to Reineke’s campaign, Ackison was fined for false advertising “for promoting themselves as a licensed surveying company in compliance with all state and federal laws, when in fact their license was suspended at the time of such advertisements, which is illegal.”
Ackison says the fines against her business are the result of an “intrusive government” with regulations “on par with New York and California,” as well as “institutions of government” attempting to take her down.
“Unlike you, I wasn’t born as an heiress to an immense car dealership. I wasn’t born to be a tycoon. I came from the bottom and I had to work and claw my way up to the top despite the government breathing down the back of my neck every time I turn around to make a life for myself, to run my farm, to run my surveying company, to run our excavation company,” Ackison said. “You know what Bill Reineke, I still had time, as a private citizen, to go out and to activate myself and get legislative reforms for things that mean something to the people.”
“I know you’re scared, you’re scared to death. You’ve never had a candidate like me who’s coming up against you. You’ve never lost anything in your entire life, and you’ve been able to buy your way every place that you need to go, but it’s not going to happen for you this time,” Ackison said of Reineke. “You must have a tremendous amount of pressure having a middle class woman who lives on a farm, operates a small business, and is highly-respected in the conservative community breathing down the back of your neck right now.”
Earlier this week, it was made known to the public that the re-election campaign for President Donald Trump appeared to have sent a letter to Ackison, demanding her campaign to cease usage of photos with the president alongside Ackison.
Attempts by TiffinOhio.net News to reach the Trump campaign to verify authenticity of the letter were unsuccessful.
“Your use of these nearly three-year-old photographs on your campaign’s website and in other campaign literature wrongly suggests that President Trump endorses your candidacy,” the letter, apparently signed by Michael S. Glassner, chief operating officer of the Trump re-election campaign, said. “This is not true and is misleading to the President’s supporters and voters in Ohio.”
Glassner apparently said President Trump has not made an endorsement in the state senate race between Ackison and Reineke. Whoever wins the primary will go on to face Craig Swartz (D-Upper Sandusky), a real estate agent and business consultant who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November.
The photos in question are displayed on Ackison’s campaign website and social media accounts, including one where President Trump is doing a thumbs-up next to Ackison, and another where Trump is standing with Ackison, her husband Rich, and their children.
“Neither President Trump nor the Trump campaign endorses your state senate candidacy at this time. That could happen, but until then, we demand that you immediately stop using the photographs of you with the President – including removing them from your campaign’s website,” Glassner apparently wrote in the letter.
As of Friday, the photos were still on Ackison’s social media profiles and website, and Ackison says she doesn’t plan on taking them down.
“My campaign has never indicated President Trump’s endorsement. We have staunchly indicated our support of the president,” Ackison said in a statement. “Frankly I don’t care who sent the letter.”
Ackison is a small business owner and conservative activist from Marysville. Reineke, a car dealership tycoon, is currently serving as a state representative for the 88th Ohio House district, which includes all of Sandusky County and the majority of Seneca County.
“Don’t you dare tell me how to use my personal photographs,” Ackison tweeted to Glassner on Sunday. “Way to piss off the grassroots Trump supporters with Ohio’s most popular conservative candidate… Piss off punk.”
Ackison added that she believes the letter sent to her was orchestrated by a former campaign operative whom she fired.
“This was orchestrated through a scumbag I fired from my campaign,” Ackison tweeted. “My attorney has already been in touch and this is not from the White House. It was created to create media controversy.”
And when you send a letter threatening me in the name of the President, spell my name correctly. I’m a business owner, a populist, a patriot and I and lead the most charged Political campaign in the state of Ohio against an establishment Never Trumper. Don’t you dare threaten me! pic.twitter.com/T4jACWqnIe
— Melissa Ackison (@MelissaAckison) February 10, 2020
In addition to the photos, a video on her campaign Facebook page features Ackison asking questions such as “Who is going to defend your Second Amendment rights?” and “Who are you going to vote for on March 17?”, followed by a clip of Trump saying “Melissa Ackison.”
The 26th district Ohio Senate seat is currently held by Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), who, along with the Ohio Republican Party, has endorsed Reineke for the seat.
Ackison has been endorsed by Ohio Value Voters, Wyandot County Sheriff Michael R. Hetzel, and the Bikers For Trump Ohio chapter.
The 26th Senate district includes Sandusky, Seneca, Morrow, Marion, Union, Wyandot, and Crawford counties.
Ackison, a Marysville small business owner and longtime conservative activist who ran in the 2018 Republican primary for U.S. Senate and came in third behind Jim Renacci and Mike Gibbons, describes herself on her Facebook profile as a “Liberty loving, gun toting, Bible carrying, 80/90’s hip hop enthusiast & habitual line stepper.”
Attempts to reach Reineke’s campaign for comment were unsuccessful.
The primary election will take place March 17.