Prior Felony Conviction Likely Bars Candidate from Taking Office
(HAMILTON) – On June 22, 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced that John P. Hart, II was sentenced 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $679,663 in restitution to the IRS after Hart pled guilty in March of that year for failing to collect and pay employment taxes regarding Hart’s employees. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Hart spent two years taking money that was collected for his employee’s contributions to Social Security and Medicare and instead spent the money on “funding his skydiving team’s attendance at skydiving competitions, funding other skydiving organizations, and paying for his annual membership and expenses at a local country club.”
Back in August, Mr. Hart filed to change his voter registration from Hamilton County to the City of Middletown and filed a petition to run as a candidate for Middletown City Council. Section 2961.02 of the Ohio Revised Code states that a person convicted of a federal felony that involves “fraud, deceit, or theft” “is incompetent to hold a public office.” However, Ohio law does not prohibit someone who is ineligible to serve a public office under this provision from being a candidate for such an office.
“Clearly, the kind of self-dealing deceitful acts Mr. Hart admitted to and was convicted in federal court over bars him from holding public office in the City of Middletown under Ohio law. The voters of Middletown deserve to know that their votes for candidates will matter, and the people they elect can legally serve. I hope Mr. Hart considers the needless voter confusion his prior conviction is creating and the costly litigation that would inevitably occur if he were to win and does the right thing and drops out of the race immediately,” said Brian Hester, Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chair.