Congressional Candidate Accused Of Campaign Finance Violation

By MALIA RULON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The father of a former candidate in the 17th Congressional District has accused state Sen. Tim Ryan (pictured, right) of taking out an illegal loan to fund his campaign for the northeast Ohio district.

A complaint sent to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday alleges that Ryan, D-Niles, violated campaign finance laws by allowing his high school basketball coach to cosign on a $50,000 loan.

Under campaign finance law, cosigners can only guarantee a loan for $1,000, which is the amount they are allowed to contribute to campaigns.

The complaint was made by Donald Walter, whose son, Randy, filed as a candidate in the 17th District race until withdrawing earlier this year. Randy Walter opposed Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, for the seat in 2000.

Ryan called the allegation a "dirty trick" and said the FEC told his campaign before it took out the loan that it was legal.

"At this point, the FEC says we are in compliance," Ryan said Thursday. "If there's a problem, we'll switch it. If we need 50 other cosigners, we'll get 50 other cosigners."

Ryan said $25,000 of the money has already been paid back since his campaign received more donations than expected.

It's the second FEC complaint filed in this year's congressional election. Earlier this month, former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner filed a complaint against fellow GOP candidate Roy Brown, accusing him of using his publishing company to print favorable stories about his campaign.

Complaints filed with the FEC typically take months to resolve and it's unlikely either ruling would come before the May 7 primary election.

The other Democratic candidates in Ryan's contest for the 17th District are Rep. Tom Sawyer of Akron, state Rep. Anthony Latell of Youngstown, Warren defense attorney Maridee Costanzo, Canfield businessman Bryan Taafe and retired Youngstown laborer Joe Louis Teague.

Traficant, who has represented the Youngstown-Warren area since 1985, has promised to run as an independent in the district even though has been convicted on bribery and corruption charges.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)