CLEVELAND, OH – If ex-President Donald Trump wants to know how elections are stolen or obstructed he should review the campaign finance reports of Cleveland Councilman Kevin Kelley for an example. All you need is a complicit prosecuting attorney who is a member of your ethnic and religious group; and who is willing to ignore the duties assigned to the elected office he holds in Title 35 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Kelley has criminally obstructed three Cleveland elections, but these aren’t words Clevelanders will see from Mark Naymik’s reporting at WKYC or from his former work at cleveland.com. Naymik is like the character Haley Osmet played in “The Sixth Sense” with actor Bruce Willis. Naymik sees criminals but only if they’re “Black.”
When 22,000 Cleveland voters signed petitions to determine the fate of council’s decision to give $88 million to Dan Gilbert to renovate a now dead Quicken Loans Arena, Kelley obstructed the Clerk of Council’s duty to accept them. When an equal number of voters submitted petitions to reduce the size of council and shrink their pay, Kelley used back door relationships at the elections board to keep the initiative off the ballot.
In 2017 Kelley stole Ward 13’s seat from his opponent. Here’s how and this is why the endorsement he’s received from Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Michael O’Malley should be seen by every Cleveland voter as “conflict of interest” troubling.
Mary Kelley was her son’s campaign treasurer during his campaign for council in 2017. Kelley was an incumbent, but he had opponents he needed to beat in the primary election to make it to the general election in November 2017. The race for Ward 13’s council seat became a competition between Kelley and Michele Burk. The primary election was held on September 12, 2017.
As his campaign treasurer it was Kelley’s mother’s legal duty to submit his campaign finance reports to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in accordance with all the laws spelled out in Title 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code. Failing to meet the deadlines set forth in Section 3517.10 of Ohio’s Revised Code would make Kelley’s mother a criminal violator of the state’s campaign finance reporting laws it’s O’Malley’s duty to enforce.
(A) Except as otherwise provided in this division, every campaign committee, political action committee, legislative campaign fund, political party, and political contributing entity that made or received a contribution or made an expenditure in connection with the nomination or election of any candidate or in connection with any ballot issue or question at any election held or to be held in this state shall file, on a form prescribed under this section or by electronic means of transmission as provided in this section and section 3517.106 of the Revised Code, a full, true, and itemized statement, made under penalty of election falsification, setting forth in detail the contributions and expenditures, not later than four p.m. of the following dates: (1) The twelfth day before the election to reflect contributions received and expenditures made from the close of business on the last day reflected in the last previously filed statement, if any, to the close of business on the twentieth day before the election; (2) The thirty-eighth day after the election to reflect the contributions received and expenditures made from the close of business on the last day reflected in the last previously filed statement, if any, to the close of business on the seventh day before the filing of the statement; (3) The last business day of January of every year to reflect the contributions received and expenditures made from the close of business on the last day reflected in the last previously filed statement, if any, to the close of business on the last day of December of the previous year; (4) The last business day of July of every year to reflect the contributions received and expenditures made from the close of business on the last day reflected in the last previously filed statement, if any, to the close of business on the last day of June of that year.
The 2017 primary election that saw Kelley lead the pack with Burk coming in second was on September 12th. Pursuant to Section 3517.10(A)(1) of the Ohio Revised Code, Kelley’s pre-primary campaign finance report was due in Election Manager Brent Lawler’s hands no later than 4 p.m. on August 31, 2017.
Kelley’s post-primary election report was due 38 days after September 12th on October 20, 2017 as a requirement of Section 3517.10(A)(2) of the Ohio Revised Code. His post-general election campaign finance report was due on December 15, 2017 pursuant to Section 3517.10(A)(2) of the Ohio Revised Code.
Kelley’s mother, Mary, violated Section 3517.13 when she failed to file on each of the statutory deadlines of Section 3517.10(A)(1)(2)(3) of the Ohio Revised Code. The Section 3517.13 violation triggered duties for Lawler to discharge at the Cuyahoga Board of Elections as the “elections manager” the board rejected to serve as the agency’s director.
Pursuant to Section 3517.11(C) of the Ohio Revised Code, failing to file or filing late is a criminal offense. Lawler is the official “whose duty it is to examine the statement” pursuant to this section of Title 35.
The specific language of the statute instructed Lawler that he, “shall promptly file a complaint with the Ohio elections commission under section 3517.153 of the Revised Code if the law is one over which the commission has jurisdiction to hear complaints, or the official shall promptly report the failure or violation to the board of elections and the board shall promptly report it to the prosecuting attorney in accordance with division (J) of section 3501.11 of the Revised Code.” This is where O’Malley’s endorsement of Kelley is so troubling because he was the county prosecutor at the time.
Mary Kelley didn’t turn in any of her son’s 2017 campaign finance reports until July 25, 2019. She submitted them altogether on that date as evidence of her violation of Section 3517.13 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Instead of accepting the reports it was Lawler’s duty in 2017 to “promptly file a complaint” with either the Ohio Elections Commission or to the board whose members were given the duty to report the Kelley families election crimes to O’Malley. The absence of either a complaint to the Ohio Elections Commission from Lawler, or notice from him to the board and a complaint from the board to O’Malley in 2017, is evidence of misconduct on the county’s election officials the prosecutor should have prosecuted.
Pursuant to Section 3517.11(D), “No certificate of nomination or election shall be issued to a person, and no person elected to an office shall enter upon the performance of the duties of that office, until that person or that person’s campaign committee, as appropriate, has fully complied with this section and sections 3517.08, 3517.081, 3517.10, and 3517.13 of the Revised Code.”
After Kelley and Burke made it through the primary the elections board was required to award each a “certificate of nomination” for them to compete in the general election. That’s only if Mary Kelley met the deadlines of Section 3517.10 of the Ohio Revised Code and did not violate Section 3517.13.
Kelley’s mother’s “failure to file” instructed her son, pursuant to Section 3517.11(D), not to enter the “office” of a “candidate” for the general election on November 7, 2017. It was Lawler’s duty to prevent the Cuyahoga County Board of Election’s members to issue Kelley a “certificate of nomination” to compete in the November 7, 2017.
Since a late filing is also a violation of Section 3517.10, it was Lawler’s duty to report him to the Ohio Elections Commission and the board; and the board’s duty to report Kelley to O’Malley for criminal prosecution. Burk should have campaigned unopposed.
After missing the December 15, 2017 to turn in his post-general election campaign finance reports, Section 3517.11(D) repeated the same instructions to Kelley as he was instructed as a “candidate” not to “enter” the next office. Lawler and the Cuyahoga County Elections Board were also instructed by the same law not to issue Kelley a “certificate of election” so that he could present it to Pat Britt in her official capacity as the “Clerk of the Council.” The “certificate of election” was Kelley’s permission to be administered an “oath of office” to “enter” the “office” of Ward 13’s council representative.
It’s O’Malley’s duty to enforce the state’s election laws that require him to have held Kelley, Lawler and members of the election board accountable. There are also the penalties associated with O’Malley prosecuting election law violators if he was protecting Cleveland voters from election and public office thieves like Kelley.
O’Malley’s required to enforce Section 3599.16 of the Ohio Revised Code under the heading, “Misconduct of member, director, or employee of board of elections – dismissal.” I’ve only seen a prosecuting attorney enforce it once; and that was against an American Negro woman employee of the board when crimes like those Lawler committed are more apparent and severely impact the integrity of local, state and national elections.
No member, director, or employee of a board of elections shall: (A) Willfully or negligently violate or neglect to perform any duty imposed upon him by law, or willfully perform or neglect to perform it in such a way as to hinder the objects of the law, or willfully disobey any law incumbent upon him so to do; (B) Willfully or knowingly report as genuine a false or fraudulent signature on a petition or registration form, or willfully or knowingly report as false or fraudulent any such genuine signature; (C) Willfully add to or subtract from the votes actually cast at an election in any official returns, or add to or take away or attempt to add to or take away any ballot from those legally polled at such election; (D) Carry away, destroy, or mutilate any registration cards or forms, pollbooks, or other records of any election; (E) Act as an election official in any capacity in an election, except as specifically authorized in his official capacity; (F) In any other way willfully and knowingly or unlawfully violate or seek to prevent the enforcement of any other provisions of the election laws. Whoever violates this section shall be dismissed from his position as a member or employee of the board and is guilty of a felony of the fourth degree.
O’Malley’s endorsement of Kelley should be seen as evidence that he’ll continue avoiding performing the prosecuting attorney’s duties in enforcing the state’s election law. There are two upcoming elections for Cleveland mayor with deadlines to meet and duties campaign treasurers are required to perform that O’Malley’s mandated by state laws to enforce.
Given Kelley’s unprosecuted obstruction of two past elections, and his heisting of a city council seat from Burk in 2017, O’Malley’s endorsement should offer assurances to Cuyahoga County voters that “his boy” is protected. O’Malley looks like a hypocrite as he calls himself praising Kelley for his being down with law enforcement after stealing over $400,000 in wages and benefits from Cleveland taxpayers over the past four years.
Kelley’s a thief in more ways than one.