ST. MARYS — The office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a reprimand to the election committee of an Auglaize County judicial candidate for conducting a raffle that is not permissible under Ohio law.
The campaign of David Weilbacher, one of two candidates in the Nov. 7 general election for Auglaize County Municipal Court judge, was selling tickets for a raffle to be held Nov. 4, with the top two prizes being guns. The Attorney General’s Office was contacted about the raffle and has since advised the campaign that such activities are not permitted.
Weilbacher, a St. Marys attorney who recently returned to the area from Cleveland, and R. Andrew Augsburger, an assistant Auglaize County prosecutor, are candidates in the Nov. 7 general election for the position of Auglaize County Municipal judge. Both are Republicans, although the judicial race is nonpartisan.
Weilbacher’s campaign had advertised the raffle on its website. Someone then contacted DeWine’s office and obtained a letter through a public records request from DeWine’s office addressing the raffle issue.
A letter dated Oct. 16 from Peter Thomas, chief of the attorney general’s charitable law section, to Shelly Haberkamp, treasurer of the David Weilbacher for Judge Committee, states that the judicial candidate’s committee “is not a federally-funded tax-exempt organization that is eligible to conduct a raffle. We would like to take this opportunity to keep your organization informed of Ohio gambling laws, specifically laws surrounding the types of organizations that may conduct raffles or other gaming activities.”
The letter from Thomas cites numerous sections of the Ohio Revised Code pertaining to tax-exempt organizations and the scope of persons who may conduct games of chance under those statutes.
The letter to Weilbacher’s campaign treasurer concludes with the warning that “if you are participating in any games of chance or raffles, you must cease those activities immediately.”
Weilbacher on Monday said the campaign “immediately stopped the raffle” after receiving the letter from the Attorney General’s Office.
“We thought we were within the guidelines, but we weren’t,” Weilbacher said. “We will refund the money to those who have already purchased tickets.”
The candidate said guns weren’t the issue in the attorney general’s ruling but it was simply a case of raffles not being permissible to benefit candidates.
“After reading the guidelines we really thought we were OK. It was just an error in understanding,” Weilbacher said.