Four days before Ohio’s primary election, Democratic voters in the 2nd Congressional District received a blitz of automated telephone calls supporting William R. Smith, a candidate who didn’t campaign, raised no money and gave no media interviews before the election. On election night, Smith won by 59 votes against a well-known, better funded and harder working candidate who had the endorsement of major Democratic groups. So who gets credit for helping Smith secure the Democratic nomination to Congress? No one knows. The “Victory Ohio Super PAC” claimed credit for the “robocalls,” but it is not registered with the Federal Election Commission and hasn’t disclosed any contributions or spending to federal regulators.
… The recorded call ended with the disclosure, “This has been paid for by the Victory Ohio Super PAC.” Neither the FEC nor Ohio’s Secretary of State have any record of such a group. A call recipient’s caller ID system generated a non-working phone number from the Cleveland suburbs. “Honestly, the more I think about this, the more mysterious it becomes. Something is fishy,” said Clermont County Democratic Chairman David Lane. “Robocalls are pretty cheap, but they did enough of them I have a hard time believing they spent less than $1,000,” said Caleb Faux, the director of the Hamilton CountyDemocratic Party who, like Lane, has never met Smith. ” Who are they, what is their motivation, where did their money come from?”
Republicans agree. “If a Republican did it, I don’t know about it,” said Alex Triantafilou, the GOP chairman in Hamilton County. “Somebody should put a stop to it. That kind of thing should not occur in politics. Transparency is crucial. I hope someone fully investigates it.”
… Smith told USA TODAY that he’s as surprised as anyone that he won, but he credits the robocalls — and perhaps his prayers. In only his second media interview, he said he doesn’t know the source of the help but suspects Republicans who “were looking at my inactivity and my access to no funding” and figured he was less of a threat to the Republican nominee. “Whatever the source of that is, I’ll take it,” he said.