Board agrees campaign piece in mayor's race should be investigated

A flier distributed to voters against Mayor-elect Chris Frye is being referred to the district attorney for investigation.

Lawrence County’s district attorney is being asked to investigate a flier disseminated before the election that was intended to discredit New Castle mayor-elect Chris Frye.

The glossy color card, printed on lightweight cardboard, was delivered to doorsteps of city voters about a week before the Nov. 5 general election and cites alleged code violations on property Frye owns or owned. The flier states, “Respectfully yours, Department of Code Enforcement,” and is marked “paid for by Frank Tomski, senior city code enforcement officer, retired.”

Steve Craig, chairman of the county election board, said at a special meeting of the board Tuesday that the financial disclosure statement that Tomski filed is in question because the cost of the flier and because of factual errors on the flier.

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Tomski submitted a receipt from Hess Printing Co. with his financial disclosure statement showing it cost $250 to have the flier made — $235 for the printing and $15 for tax. He submitted no other expense concerning the material, according to information from the county elections office.

“They’re two-sided, hand-delivered, and there’s no place on them for an address,” Craig said.

Craig estimated that at a cost of $250, that figures out to 23 cents per copy, printed on the front and back with heavy card stock in a large format.

“I’ve done a lot of election material ... and I find it hard to believe that cost,” he said. It is his opinion that the distributors of the flier would have been paid a rate to distribute them, plus there was no set-up fee for the production of the flier, he said.

He added that he believes certain information on the flier “is factually incorrect regarding the violations of the candidate.” He concluded that the board should send the flier to the district attorney for investigation and possible action.

Board member John R. Seltzer agreed with Craig, and he, Craig and member Frank Piccari voted on a motion to forward the matter to District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa.

Ed Allison, county director of elections, said after the meeting that Tomski filed his financial disclosure statement for the flier a day late, on Friday in the voter’s office, and he paid the $20 late filing fee. The 30-day post-election statements were due to have been filed by all candidates by Thursday to avoid the late filing fees that accrue for each day the filing is late.

Attempts to contact Tomski and Frye about the flier were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon.

Allison reported that he has delivered the board’s previous recommendation to the district attorney for an investigation into a mailer sent out by the Accountable Leadership Political Action Committee against Democratic mayor candidate Mark Elisco, who lost the election. Allison said the county has not yet had any feedback about that mailer.

Allison also reported that no further action will be taken against Andrea Keyser, whose name was turned over to the district attorney for not having included “paid for by” on her ad as a candidate for the Shenango School Board. He said the matter has been resolved.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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