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DeWine, $321K in dark money line up behind governor’s daughter in GOP prosecutor race - News - The Columbus Dispatch


Alice DeWine’s Greene County race is being fought with political heavyweights and help from a super PAC.

The governor, the attorney general and more than $321,000 in dark money are being parlayed in a bid to elect Mike DeWine’s daughter as Greene County prosecutor, which was the now-governor’s first elective office.

In an unusual appearance in a small county race, a mysterious federal super PAC is backing the campaign of Alice DeWine with cash from a Columbus “social welfare” nonprofit not required to disclose its donors.

Alice DeWine is opposed for the Republican nomination for prosecutor in the small county, her parents’ longtime home, by David Hayes, an assistant Greene County prosecutor with whom she once worked.

The winner of the almost exclusively mail primary election with a Monday deadline to get ballots postmarked will become Greene County prosecutor next year since there is no Democratic candidate.

A federal campaign finance report filed last week by Protecting Ohio Action Fund showed it had raised $321,281, and spent slightly less, for polling and digital advertising to support Alice DeWine.

Nearly $320,000 of its contributions came from Protecting Ohio Inc., a tax-exempt nonprofit formed shortly after Alice DeWine resigned from the Greene County prosecutor’s office last year to become an assistant prosecutor in neighboring Clark County.

As a dark-money group not required to disclose its donors, Protecting Ohio Inc. can promote a cause, which it says is boosting “individuals who fundamentally believe families deserve to know they are safe (and) the law is enforced.” Super PACs can raise unlimited sums to support political candidates but cannot coordinate with them.

Protecting Ohio Inc. also has sent mailers promoting DeWine to Greene County homes. It had not yet made an IRS filing disclosing its finances.

One of Protecting Ohio Action Fund’s digital ads — which have totaled nearly $44,000 on Facebook — reads: “Alice is a pro-Trump, pro-life leader who will fight against drugs and sanctuary cities.”

DeWine’s campaign Facebook page features endorsement videos from her father and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. She spent more than $13,000 of her own campaign cash to purchase Facebook ads featuring the governor’s video beginning April 14. DeWine also has used ads featuring her mother, Fran.

Alice DeWine did not respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.

DeWine has raised $140,397 for her own campaign account, including a $15,025 loan from herself. Her parents have given her $4,000 each.

Hayes, her Republican primary opponent, had raised $39,605, which he said obviously is a pittance compared to DeWine and her supporters.

“That amount of money being spent on a local, county race, it is really insane,” Hayes said Thursday. “But, I have near-universal law enforcement support and the people who support me are residents of Greene County — not politicians in Columbus or family members.

“From their perspective, she has to win this race. This is her political coming-out party and if she doesn’t win this race, her political career may be over before it’s started,” Hayes said.

Mike DeWine began his political career in 1977 as Greene County prosecutor.

rludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow

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