LaRose’s Campaign Bankrolled By Special Interests, Controversial Figures

COLUMBUS — State Sen. Frank LaRose’s campaign finance reports last week uncovered thousands of dollars in contributions from questionable sources, including GOP figures associated with divisive comments, anti-voter policies and ongoing corruption scandals.

“Frank LaRose talks endlessly about civility but takes thousands of dollars from divisive figures who have made troubling comments about the voting process, actively engage in efforts to make it harder to vote and are central figures in the majority’s culture of corruption in Columbus,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Being bankrolled by such divisive figures speaks volumes.”

Doug Preisse, the Franklin County Republican Chair and election official, came under fire in 2012 for comments made during the debate over whether to eliminate the final three days of early voting. Preisse said, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.”

In a highly partisan move, Preisse recently voted to block voter education funding to promote early voting and the Nov. 6 election in Franklin County. The county’s Board of Elections had previously funded similar ad campaigns during the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Preisse contributed $11,700 to LaRose’s campaign.

Former state Rep. Bob Mecklenborg was the architect of the “Photo ID-only” bill to restrict voting rights that passed the House in 2011. Just weeks after his bill passed, Mecklenborg was arrested in Indiana for drunk driving. A young woman who worked at a nearby strip club was in the car with him. He resigned shortly thereafter.

Mecklenborg donated $500 to LaRose’s campaign.

LaRose has also taken $20,000 in campaign donations from Bill Lager, the founder of the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and other charter school figures who took millions from Ohio taxpayers. As his own colleagues remain under FBI investigation for their connection to payday lending lobbyists, LaRose has stayed silent — after taking more than $10,000 from the industry himself.