A Delaware County resident has filed a complaint alleging that an Orange Township trustee candidate has violated state elections law.
The complaint, filed with the Ohio Elections Commission on Sept. 27 by Delaware resident Melissa Calvetti, alleges that township trustee Lisa Knapp and some of her supporters are functioning as a political action committee (PAC), but have failed to register as a PAC with the state.
Calvetti’s complaint states, “I am alleging violations of the Ohio Revised Code … which places certain reporting and disclosure requirements on PACs … which defines PACs as ‘a combination of two or more persons, the primary or major purpose of which is to support or oppose any candidate, political party, a campaign committee, a political contributing entity, or a legislative campaign fund.’”
The complaint states that Knapp, Susan Tobias, and Todd Daviso are acting as a PAC and by law are required to to register as such. It is also stated in the complaint that “Knapp has contributed monetarily to her efforts with ‘sponsored Facebook post’ as well as non-sponsored post.”
“I thought it was a lie,” Knapp said. “This is harassment, (Orange Township fiscal officer) Joel Spitzer is behind this because it’s his cousin. She lives in Delaware, not Orange Township. He’s using his cousin to harass me.”
Spitzer said Calvetti is actually his niece and filed the complaint of “her own volition” and that he “doesn’t have any cousins.” He said Calvetti is studying law. Calvetti was not available for comment.
The complaint further states, “Knapp has has taken to social media to actively endorse the removal of trustee candidates Robert Quigley and Debbie Taranto at the November 7, 2017 general election.”
“I’m acting as a individual,” Knapp said. “A PAC is people working together. This is just people on the same platform.”
If Knapp is determined to be in violation of state law by the Ohio Elections Commission, she faces substantial fines.
“As an administrative agency, we determine whether there has been a violation of the statute at issue,” Philip Richter, Ohio Elections Commission executive director and staff attorney, wrote in an email to The Gazette. “For failing to file a designation of treasurer, the penalty can be up to $500/day … For failing to file reports timely, up to $100/day.”
This isn’t the first time that Knapp has faced a complaint filed against her with the commission.
In 2013, Taranto filed a complaint against Knapp accusing her of making false statements. It was determined that there was no violation at that time.
In 2015, a Lewis Center resident filed a complaint accusing her of failing to file complete and accurate statements. The commission found no violations.
Spitzer recently filed a civil complaint in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, Civil Division, alleging that Knapp, Daviso, and Tobias have engaged in harassment against him.
Spitzer is requesting the court grant restraining orders against the parties named in the filing and award him compensatory damages totaling approximately $1.1 million.
“Bottom line, Spitzer is using his law degree to file frivolous lawsuits against me,” Knapp said. “He is just trying to exhaust me.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.