Ohio Senate candidate Craig Swartz (D-Upper Sandusky) released a new campaign video Saturday in which he tore into his opponent, state Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), accusing him of using his position to represent special interests rather than everyday people.
Swartz said that claim is based, in part, upon Reineke taking thousands of dollars from the energy company at the center of the corruption scandal involving a $60 million federal bribery case which stemmed from a bill passed last year to bail out Ohio’s nuclear power plants. Reineke cosponsored and voted for that legislation, House Bill 6.
“We know now that he’s taken over $10,000 from FirstEnergy PACs for the past few years, up to, leading up to the vote for HB 6. And even in this most recent election cycle, for 2020 for his state senate run, he’s accepted another $6,000 from FirstEnergy,” Swartz said in the video.
Swartz says Reineke’s campaign war chest is dominated by special interests and political action committees.
“And when I was looking at his records, and I know this going in, that Bill Reineke was self-financed, he inherited a car business, he really doesn’t need the money. But he’s amassed a small fortune in his war chest for this state senate run, and primarily from his Republican Party colleagues. Congressman Jim Jordan, Pat Tiberi, state Senator Matt Huffman, and others have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Bill Reineke’s election for the state senate.”
As previously reported by TiffinOhio.net, in the few years leading up to Reineke cosponsoring and voting for House Bill 6, he received $1,500 in campaign contributions from FirstEnergy. The bill passed the Ohio House of Representatives in May 2019; the Ohio Senate (with amendments) in July 2019; then the House concurred with those changes a week later. The bill was then signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine (R).
FirstEnergy then made additional contributions to Reineke and other lawmakers after they voted for HB 6. From 2015 to 2020, campaign finance reports reviewed by TiffinOhio.net show Reineke’s political committee, Friends of Bill Reineke, received a total of at least $11,200 in contributions from FirstEnergy PAC, $6,000 of which came after HB 6 made its way through the House and Senate.
Reineke, who currently represents the majority of Seneca County and all of Sandusky County in the Ohio House, was one of nine representatives who co-sponsored House Bill 6, which bailed out the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy.
Swartz said his review of Reineke’s campaign finance records begs the question as to whose interests Reineke is truly serving.
“When you’re amassing that kind of war chest, it freezes out any other likely opponents, even from his own party, let alone the Democratic Party. And so you’re a representative of the people, well which people are you serving?” Swartz said.
“It’s clear that he’s serving the country club interests,” Swartz added. “He’s never held a town hall meeting since being elected to the House. When he does any kind of meet and greet, they’re carefully scripted, carefully orchestrated. Like he was flipping steaks the other day at Crawford County Fair for a photo op. We could all do that, but what about holding meaningful town halls, where you’re discussing a wide range of issues with a wide variety of people? He’ll never do that. He’ll never serve the interests of district 26. He has no intention of doing so.”
Swartz says the special interests giving Reineke money to power his campaign are “shielding” Reineke from the “very people he’s supposed to represent.”
“That is why I’m running for this office, because my intention has always been clear. To serve the public, to be that public servant, to be a true public servant. To speak to the truth about what is going on in this state, what’s been going on for decades. For the past 20 to 30 years, one party has corrupted our electoral process. They’ve gerrymandered their districts, they’ve ensured no one else can mount any kind of effective counter campaign, to speak the truth. That’s why he accepts tens of thousands of dollars from his own party, thousands of dollars from special interest PACs,” Swartz said.
Swartz is facing off against Reineke in the November general election for the 26th district state Senate seat. The 26th Senate district includes Seneca, Sandusky, Morrow, Crawford, Union, Wyandot, and Marion counties.