The state’s Elections Commission dismissed a complaint May 21 alleging that Republican Gov. John Kasich’s re-election campaign played a role in getting a Libertarian candidate bumped from last year’s gubernatorial ballot. Attorneys for Libertarian Charlie Earl argued that Kasich’s campaign and GOP consultant Terry Casey conspired in a successful protest that disqualified Earl from the 2014 governor’s race and that Casey’s resulting legal bills constitute an unreported in-kind contribution to the campaign. They sought a $720,000 fine against Kasich’s team. The elections panel ruled otherwise. Members voted 5-2 to dismiss the complaint, finding that Earl lacked the evidence to show a coordinated effort.
Filings with the Elections Commission show that the Ohio Republican Party paid Casey $300,000 in legal bills for the challenge. The money went to pay the law firm Zeiger, Tigges & Little for legal advice and representation in the challenge against Earl’s nominating petitions.
Casey has consistently said he acted on his own to challenge Earl out of concern that his candidacy was orchestrated by Democrats.
In testimony during a separate lawsuit filed by Ohio Libertarians, Casey acknowledged communicating with Kasich’s re-election campaign ahead of the protest to Earl’s nominating petitions. But he rejected suggestions that Kasich or his campaign orchestrated the effort.