USA Today: Critics Say Rep. Jim Renacci May Have Used 'Straw Donor' Scheme to Fund State Campaign Account
Shortly after Rep. Jim Renacci announced his gubernatorial bid last March, the Ohio Republican doled out $56,000 in campaign contributions to 12 House Republican candidates and several political action committees affiliated with those lawmakers.
Eight of those Republicans then turned around and contributed to Renacci's state gubernatorial campaign, to the tune of $26,700, within weeks or even days of Renacci’s initial contribution to their campaigns and PACs.
Campaign finance experts say it looks like a "straw donor” scheme, with Renacci using his federal campaign account and allied lawmakers to evade Ohio’s campaign finance limits.
“What this sounds like is a straw donor scenario, where Renacci is using funds from his federal campaign account to unlawfully support his state gubernatorial run and doing it through his fellow elected officials,” said Brendan Fischer, an election and ethics expert at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that advocates for stronger campaign finance laws.
“This could just be a coincidence,” Fischer said. “But ultimately if this is a straw donor scheme, the original source of the funds (for Renacci’s gubernatorial account) is Renacci’s federal campaign committee.”
Fischer said it could violate Ohio’s straw donor ban.