A probable cause panel of the Ohio Elections Commission has escalated a complaint against Marysville City Councilman Dan Fogt, who is accused of violating campaign rules in his effort to win an Ohio House seat.
He must now appear before the full commission at 10 a.m. March 13.
Fogt is challenging fellow Republican and incumbent Dorothy Pelanda in the May 6 primary for the Ohio House of Representatives 86th District seat. His campaign came under fire when a complaint was filed with the OEC about business cards Fogt passed out that said “Dan Fogt State Representative” instead of “Dan Fogt for State Representative.”
Fogt learned Feb. 6 about the complaint, which said that not including the word “for” makes it look as if Fogt is already serving in the office.
He is accused of making a “false statement either knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity and in an attempt to influence the results of the election.”
Fogt appeared before the probable cause panel Feb. 20, the first step in the complaint process. The panel determined there was probable cause to believe a violation occurred and referred the matter to the full OEC.
“I am very disappointed that this complaint continues on,” Fogt wrote in an email interview.
Fogt said all of his other campaign materials are worded correctly and that he stopped distributing the cards as soon as he received the complaint.
“I immediately admitted my honest mistake, I apologized, I stopped passing out the incorrect business cards, I destroyed the incorrect cards in my possession, and I requested other people to destroy the incorrect cards,” he wrote in the email.
Phil Richter, executive director and staff attorney for the OEC, has said the commission would have to find a violation of the statute through clear and convincing evidence. If the commission rules that a violation occurred, it could send the case to the county prosecutor for possible criminal charges, or let it stand with no further action.
Fogt said he does not know who initiated the complaint, which was filed by Brittany Warner, political director at the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee.
Warner could not be reached for comment.
Pelanda previously told the Marysville News that she was not responsible.
“I still have not learned who initiated the complaint. I should have the right to face my accuser,” Fogt said. “The Ohio Republican Party seems to be paying for the legal team against me.”