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Letter From Election Chief In Ohio Sought Illegal Funds

Associated Press
Sunday, January 9, 2005; Page A06

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 8 -- The state's chief elections officer, accused of mishandling the presidential vote in November, sent a fundraising letter for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign that was accompanied by a request for illegal contributions.

A pledge card with the letter from Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who co-chaired the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in Ohio, said "corporate & personal checks are welcome."

Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell called it an oversight.

Corporate donations are illegal in Ohio.

His spokesman, Carlo LoParo, said Saturday that any corporate donations will be returned.

Blackwell said the request sent to GOP donors and activists was an oversight. His campaign's fundraising coordinator, Jeff Ledbetter, blamed a printer for the mistake, saying it used a template for an issue committee, which is allowed to accept corporate donations.

Ledbetter told the Columbus Dispatch that no corporate donations had been received in response to the letter.

Blackwell's letter also praises Republicans for helping deliver Ohio to President Bush.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who prepared a report on election problems in Ohio, said the letter supports suspicions that Blackwell's actions as secretary of state during the election "stemmed from partisan political motivations" to help Bush.

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