COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge is to serve 10 days in jail, give $2,065 to a food bank and undergo alcohol treatment after authorities say he improperly spent campaign funds, including more than $1,000 at an upscale restaurant to celebrate his opponent dropping out of the 2014 race.
Franklin County Appeals Court Judge Tim Horton pleaded guilty Thursday to three misdemeanor counts of inaccurate campaign-finance reports, involving “unreasonable and excessive” spending of funds, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/2mQ5v5s).
Judge Patricia Cosgrove also sentenced Horton to 100 hours of community service.
The misdemeanor convictions don’t require Horton, a Democrat, to resign. But Franklin County Republican Party Chairman Doug Preisse says he should step down.
“It’s shocking that any judge would propose that he be allowed to go to jail and come back to serve on the court when he’s released,” Preisse said.
Authorities say Horton also spent $173 on cigars for campaign supporters, even though he was running unopposed, and spent $979 for a restaurant fundraiser that was attended by only one donor.
“He knew right from wrong. He knew what he was doing and chose to do it anyway,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Donahue, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case.
Horton told the judge that his “mistakes and misjudgments” were partly caused by alcohol problems.
His attorney, Jim Owen, said the investigation involved the office of State Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, and was politically motivated.
“It’s nothing more than a partisan hack job by a very political state auditor who was pursuing Judge Horton for purely political purposes,” Owen said.
Horton said in a statement emailed by his attorney Friday that he respects the judge’s decision.
“I take full responsibility for my mistakes, and am taking steps to ensure that the taxpayers suffer no financial loss during the period of my absence,” Horton said.
Horton’s case was in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, where he served as judge before he was elected to the appeals court in 2014.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com