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State Auditor: Confirms Mayor’s Complaint Against TARTA

For Immediate Release
May 6, 2011

Waterville—Ohio Auditor Dave Yost released a statement confirming The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) illegally loaned Citizens for TARTA $66,885 in public funds to pay for its levy campaigns. According to the release, Auditor Yost said, “The taxpayers’ money must be repaid by Citizens for TARTA.”

According to the Ohio Revised Code, Section 9.03, “no governing body of a political subdivision shall use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a levy or bond issue.”

In November, 2010, Mayor Derek Merrin, Waterville, notified the Lucas County Board of Elections that TARTA had illegally lent public funds to Citizens for TARTA, which is a political action committee formed to support TARTA levy campaigns. Mayor Merrin discovered the illegal loans by examining Citizens for TARTA campaign finance reports.

On January 12, 2011, Mayor Merrin filed a formal complaint with the Lucas County Board Elections claiming TARTA and Citizens for TARTA for illegally using public funds to support a levy. The Lucas County Board of Elections referred the matter to the Lucas County prosecutor. Also, Mayor Merrin notified Ohio Auditor Dave Yost concerning the violation.

“It’s gratifying that Auditor Yost has validated my complaint,” Mayor Merrin said. “I congratulate Auditor Yost for holding TARTA accountable for misusing public funds.”

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Mayor Derek Merrin
Village of Waterville
25 North Second Street
Waterville, OH 43566

Lucas County Board of Elections
One Government Center, Suite 300
Toledo, OH 43604

January 12, 2011

Dear Board Members:

Please accept this letter as a formal complaint regarding the Toledo Area

Regional Transit Authority and “Citizens for TARTA” use of public funds to influence

the outcome of a public levy. According to Ohio Revised Code 9.03 (e), political

subdivisions are strictly prohibited from using public funds to support/oppose a passage

of a levy.

According to “Citizens for TARTA” 2010 Post-General campaign finance report,

it has accepted two loans from The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority totaling

$63,000. On November 9, 2006, it received a $10,000 loan. On January 18, 2008, it

received a $53,000 loan. Although public funds were loaned, it still constitutes illegal use

of public funds. “Citizens for TARTA” campaign finance report stated it has an on-hand

balance of $21,124.75. Despite “Citizens for TARTA” ability to repay their first loan

received, they have failed to make payment for either loan.

 

 

 

I am requesting immediate action be taken against the Toledo Area Regional

Transit Authority and “Citizens for TARTA” for their failure to abide by State law.

Please advise me concerning efforts taken to recover the public funds.

Respectfully,

 

Derek Merrin
Mayor, Village of Waterville

cc: Mike Dewine, Ohio Attorney General
cc: Julia Bates, Lucas County Prosecutor
cc: Director Paul Nick, Ohio Elections Commission
cc: Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State
cc: Dave Yost, Ohio Auditor of State
cc: Board of Trustees, Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority
cc: Chuck Peyton, Treasurer of Citizens for TARTA