A second Youngstown Council member owes fines related to failing to file a campaign finance report
21 News has learned that another member of Youngstown City Council is being billed $25 a day in fines for failing to file campaign finance paperwork.
Just last week, we reported that 7th Ward Councilwoman Basia Adamczak's campaign finance issues are in the hands of the Ohio Attorney General's Collection Division -- and she owes more than $26,000 in fines, even though she came into compliance with her paperwork back on February 4, 2019.
If she files a request for reconsideration on the fines, they could be reduced or dropped by the Attorney General's Office.
In this Watchdog Report, we will tell you why the President of Council, DeMaine Kitchen, could be on the hook for approximately $16,000.
A tip prompted 21 News to request public records from the Mahoning County Board of Elections Campaign Finance Division regarding Kitchen.
Kitchen, according to records, failed to file his 2017 Post General Election Report that was due December 16, 2017.
The case was referred to the Ohio Elections Commission, and he was fined $25 a day from the day the report was originally due until it is ultimately filed.
That's a fine of approximately $16,000 for now. But Kitchen says he's been working to get the issue resolved, and the paperwork filed by next week at the Mahoning County Board of Elections. Then the Board will notify the Ohio Elections Commission that he has come into compliance.
He also has to provide an addendum to another 2017 report, meaning the report itself was filed, but now he needs to provide copies of checks from some of the campaign donors to make it complete. Kitchen was getting copies of those checks when he returned a phone call to 21 News.
Kitchen tells 21 News, "I take full responsibility for not filing the 2017 Post-General Election Report, and I will do so by Tuesday of next week. I'm not running from it, and I'm not blaming anyone. No excuses. I'll get the matter resolved. This is clerical, not criminal."
The Ohio Elections Commission tells me that a 2014 issue that Kitchen addressed regarding $4,000 in cash given to him by a former mayor was resolved, and the Ohio Elections Commission found he did nothing wrong, and in fact, reported it like he should have.
The Ohio Elections Commission tells me once Kitchen's paperwork is filed; the daily fines will stop.
He can also ask the Elections Commission for reconsideration, and it's possible the fine could be reduced or dismissed.
21 News has learned that all local Boards of Elections have an audit checklist that can help candidates and their campaign treasurer's when it comes to filling out campaign finance reports. The best advice is to file the reports when they're due, and you can always go back and file an addendum to the report -- meaning supplying copies of checks from donors and addresses of contributors.
The Ohio Elections Commission says what's more important than the fines is to get the paperwork filed. That's because the paperwork is designed for the purpose of transparency, so when they are audited, it will show who a candidate received campaign donations from and in what amounts.