Saturday, July 29, 2000

Aide may get Holcomb fund

Campaign cash to be passed on

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The $164,000 campaign fund amassed by John F. Holcomb, the Butler County prosecutor who died a week ago, probably will be passed on to Dan Gattermeyer, his likely successor in this year's prosecutor's race.

        State and county election laws permit all the money to go to Mr. Gattermeyer.

        “There are no limits on the amount of money,” said Betty McGary, deputy director of the Butler County Board of Elections.

        Ohio law requires the money go to a political party, a campaign or a charity.

        Neither the state nor Butler County restricts the amount of money that can be transferred to a campaign for a countywide office.

        On Tuesday, the Butler County Democratic Central Committee is expected to select Mr. Gattermeyer, now acting prosecutor, to serve the five months left on Mr. Holcomb's term and to replace him on the Nov. 7 ballot.

        James Lee, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, said the treasurer of the Holcomb campaign fund has legal control of the money. Mary Sue Predit, administrator of the prosecutor's office, is treasurer of the fund.

        She could not be reached for comment Friday. But Mark Conese, chairman of the Butler County Democratic Central Committee, said he expects the money to be used in the prosecutor's race.

        “That's what the money was intended for,” he said. “I don't think the money could be any better spent than on Dan Gattermeyer's campaign, but it's beyond my control.”

        Mr. Holcomb received criticism last year when the Enquirer reported that many of his employees contributed about 2 percent of their salaries to his campaign fund.

        State law requires such contributions to be voluntary, and some former employees of the prosecutor's office claimed they were pressured. Mr. Holcomb denied pressuring anyone.

        Mr. Gattermeyer said that he will discuss after Tuesday whether the so-called 2 Percent Club will continue.

        Mr. Conese said the Democratic Party has taken no position on the issue and doesn't plan to.

        “I think it's legal and it's totally voluntary,” he said. “I don't see anything wrong with it. If Mr. Gattermeyer doesn't want to continue it, that's his decision.”


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