YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Almost five years after she was first elected, Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Righetti is still fighting off claims she’s somehow connected to the Oakhill Renassiance purchasing case.
“I mean this is craziness,” Righetti said. “To bring me into something that I am not a part of is what’s really disheartening.”
This time, the accusations are contained in a nearly year-old affidavit filed by Ohio BCI agents looking to obtain emails and other information exchanged between Righetti and others.
Those papers were unsealed just this week. Investigators claimed confidential informants have told them valley businessman Anthony Cafaro, who opposed the county’s purchase of Oakhill, had used a so-called “straw donor” to funnel money to Righetti’s campaign.
“I am not guilty of anything, and I am really flabbergasted about this,” Righetti said.
BJ Alan Fireworks president Bruce Zoldan said he was contacted by Cafaro back in November of 2010 about donating to Righetti and testified about that in front of a grand jury.
“It was, ‘Bruce, whatever you committed, I’d like to reimburse you for half,” Zoldan said. “‘And tell her that you and me are both contributors to her campaign.’ And I turned it down.”
Zoldan said that although the contribution would have been legitimate, he said ‘no’ to Cafaro because he had his own reasons for helping Righetti at the time, and wonders why his testimony is coming out now.
“I didn’t know that it was brought out for public relations or intention to smear or discredit somebody. So I am taken aback by it,” Zoldan said.
Righetti said she was never aware of Cafaro’s offer and never had reason to question any of her donors.
“I’m upset at the fact that my contributors would ever have to go through this,” Righetti said.
Although prosecutors in the Oakhill case won’t explain why the papers were released now, Righetti has never been charged with anything and insists she’s done nothing wrong.