Kitchen repays part of improper contribution

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A month after he claimed getting $4,000 in cash for his failed Youngstown mayoral campaign, DeMaine Kitchen said Tuesday he has given at least some of the money back.

In early March, the one-time non-party candidate stirred up quite a bit of controversy when he turned in his post-election finance reports two months late and they listed a very large and reportedly illegal contribution from then-Mayor Chuck Sammarone. Kitchen was Sammarone’s chief of staff.

As Kitchen was leaving the Mahoning County Board of Elections office on Tuesday, he refused to speak with reporters about the donation. However, new documents posted online a short time later indicate Kitchen filed an amended report, stating his campaign committee had given a check to former Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone for $2,500.

In his original report, Kitchen claimed to have received $4,000 in cash from Sammarone. In his amended filing, Kitchen shows he still owes the former Mayor another $1,400.

“He should have known that he should not take a cash contribution of over $100. We give them a packet, we give them instructions and our campaign finance department is here to help, so all he had to do was ask the questions,” said Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale Pesta.

Kitchen’s new paperwork came a day after Board of Elections direcors sent a formal complaint to the state Election Commission in Columbus over both the cash contribution from Sammarone and the fact his original filing was made two months late.

“We will send that [the amended filing] to the Election Commission too, but it’s in their hands now. It’s out of our hands. We have complied with the law,” Kale Pesta said.

Sammarone has not talked publicly about the campaign cash since admitting about a month ago that it was, as he called it at the time, “an act of stupidity.”

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