Shadowy unregistered political groups — some of which claim to be “super PACs” — are placing apparently illegal robocalls to voters across Ohio and the country. Experts say the latest form of dirty politics has the power to sway elections, and the problem is escalating nationwide. A Cincinnati-area Democratic congressional primary candidate, David Krikorian, says his defeat at the ballot box on March 6 may have been caused by a robocall that went out to voters the prior weekend, urging them to vote for an unknown candidate who didn’t actively campaign, instead of Krikorian, who was endorsed by many Democratic groups.
Federal prosecutors in southern Ohio are looking into whether a mysterious political action committee that helped nominate an unknown congressional candidate violated federal election laws. The “Victory Ohio Super PAC” made a series of automated phone calls supporting Waverly, Ohio truck driver William R. Smith in last week’s Democratic primary for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat. The PAC did not disclose its activity to the Federal Election Commission, which it would be required to do if it spent more than $1,000, so there’s no record of who is responsible for the calls.
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.