Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ohio Attorney General says merger donation was illegal

The Sylvania Township Trustees requested an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General regarding donations made by the Sylvania Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to the OneSylvania merger issue.

The Trustees had two questions - what happens if one of the township representatives named on the merger committee to be created no longer resides in the township at the time the issue is voted upon, and whether or not campaign contributions from the CIC are allowed.


No. 2008-035. Requested by Sylvania Township Law Director Truman A. Greenwood. SYLLABUS:

1. If a person is named as a candidate for township representative in a petition for a merger study commission that is submitted to the electors under R.C. 709.45 and, prior to the election, the candidate ceases to be a resident of the unincorporated are of the township, the candidate lacks the residency qualification required to serve in the position of township member of the merger study commission if the creation of the commission is approved by the electors. The board of township trustees has no authority to appoint a replacement candidate prior to the election, but if the creation of a commission is approved by the electors, the election of a township candidate who does not reside in the unincorporated area of the township will automatically create a vacancy on the commission to be filled by the board of township trustees under R.C. 709.46(B).

2. A community improvement corporation that is established under R.C. Chapter 1724 and receives financial support from a municipal corporation and a township does not have authority to contribute funds or other resources to an entity established to support or oppose a ballot issue relating to the proposed merger of the municipal corporation and township.

Sylvania CIC donated $4,000 to OneSylvania in the early stages of the initiative when they were hiring an attorney to draft the petition language; an additional $10,000 in September to promote passage of the issues; and promised another $5,000 in matching funds to OneSylvania if they raised more than the initial $10,000 contribution.

The Sylvania CIC executive committee does not meet until after the election. They were provided a copy of the AG opinion which they forwarded to their attorney.

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