Judge gets benefit of a loophole

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Chief Justice Thomas Moyer wants to close the legal loophole that let Republican candidates shuffle more than $100,000 worth of television air time among themselves last week.

But until it’s closed, he’s happy to take advantage of it.

Mr. Moyer is one of two statewide candidates who benefited when Attorney General Betty Montgomery gave $85,000 of TV air time to the Ohio Republican Party. The party turned around and gave $15,000 of it to Mr. Moyer for his campaign, as well as $35,000 to treasurer nominee Joe Deters.

The campaign of Auditor Jim Petro gave $25,000 of air time to the GOP for distribution to other candidates, including Mr. Deters. Mr. Petro and Ms. Montgomery are well ahead in the polls.

Normally, a campaign can give only $2,500 to another campaign. But using the GOP as a middleman enabled Ms. Montgomery’s and Mr. Petro’s campaign money to aid candidates in tighter races.

“That’s a loophole that needs closing,” said Ryan Erwin, the Moyer campaign finance director, who said he was speaking for the chief justice. “That’s not the way that the law was intended. But we’ll take the money.”

The $15,000 infusion from the GOP last week followed a $100,000 donation to the Moyer campaign from the state party this month. Both donations were made after the deadline when donations must be disclosed before Tuesday’s election.

Mr. Moyer’s opponent, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Gary Tyack, said the donation shows the party leadership is concerned about the incumbent’s chances.

“Obviously, they’re worried about this race,” he said. “I think it’s hypocritical for him to be running ads saying he’s fought to take the big money out of judicial elections and to be taking all this money after the campaign finance filing deadline.”

Mr. Erwin said the campaign’s internal polling shows Mr. Moyer with a comfortable lead of 18 points.

A Louis Harris poll sponsored by The Blade indicated 56 per cent supporting Mr. Moyer and only 18 per cent supporting Mr. Tyack.

State seal given its Wrights; State seal proposal shown

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 9

COLUMBUS — John Glenn wasn’t the only Ohioan thinking about taking flight yesterday.

On the steps of the Statehouse, a Dayton mortgage banker unveiled the artwork he’s been slaving over for six months and been pushing for more than three years: a new Ohio state seal.

The change proposed by William Burnett: adding the Wright brothers’ 1903 airplane, flying straight into the seal’s sunrise.

“I’ve been spending all my spare time on the weekends working on it,” Mr. Burnett said, standing next to the colorful seal prototype. “It’s an important change we want to make.”

Mr. Burnett says that if state government agrees to adopt his seal, it would boost economic development and tourism – not to mention settle the ugly, decades-old debate between Ohio and North Carolina over who was truly “first in flight.”

“It’s an injustice to our state, as the place where the first plane was built,” he said.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were Dayton residents, and they tested and designed their airplane prototypes there. But when they wanted to find a windy place to try their first real flight, they tossed their plane on a train and headed off to Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Lawmaker under fire for letter; Appeal for funds raises foe’s concern

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 16

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Bill Taylor (R., Norwalk) has been under severe criticism for a fund-raising letter that appears to promise lobbyists access in exchange for a donation to his re-election campaign.

“I can’t believe he has stooped this low,” said his 63rd House District opponent, Democrat Natalie Mosher, a former Erie County commissioner.

The 63rd District covers parts of Erie, Huron, and Lorain counties.

“Since I can’t take time from a hectic campaign schedule, please consider a direct contribution to help me win,” the letter to more than 100 lobbyists reads. “The race is tight and a final kick is vital. A fund-raiser in Columbus is simply too time consuming. Instead, I promise to buy you a drink at the earliest opportunity. You know my record and my accessibility.”

The letter concludes with the address to send checks to and Dr. Taylor’s signature.

Dr. Taylor, a dentist running for a third two-year term, defended the letter, saying that lobbyists and their donations are an important part of the way state government functions.

“That’s why they give you money, to get favorable consideration for their causes,” he said. “They give you money to help you with your race, and you give them access in return.

“When I need funds for my campaign, I’m not ashamed to say I need it,” he said.

He did say, however, that plenty of lobbyists give him nothing and still get access. “I stay easily accessible to lobbyists,” he said.

Unlike in previous elections, Dr. Taylor did not have time to hold a formal fund-raiser in Columbus this year. He said the letter and its promise of a free drink is just a substitute for the chicken dinner fund-raisers that other candidates have.

“It just means instead of us going through the motions of having a fund-raiser, just give me the money directly, and you’ll have the same access you would have if you came to my fund-raiser,” he said.

Dr. Taylor said his opponent is unfairly targeting him and running “the ugliest, dirtiest campaign I’ve ever been involved with.”

“If I felt like sending another letter next week, I’d send another one,” he said. “It’s a perfectly legitimate part of the political process … It’s naive for anyone to say that the system will ever be changed.”

He has won his last two races for the statehouse by less than 1,000 votes combined, and his race this year is expected to be close.

Democrats cry foul on state GOP’s use of funding loophole

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Two statewide Republican candidates, well ahead in the polls, have used a loophole in state elections law to dump more than $100,000 worth of television airtime into the campaigns of more vulnerable Republican candidates.

It’s a loophole because state law prohibits statewide candidates from giving more than $2,500, in money or airtime, to another statewide campaign.

But the two candidates, Attorney General Betty Montgomery and Auditor Jim Petro, got around the limit by giving the airtime to the Ohio Republican Party, who in turn gave the money to GOP candidates like Joe Deters, who is in a tight race for state treasurer.

“This is outrageous conduct by someone who is supposed to enforce the laws,” said Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for attorney general.

Mr. Cordray and John Donofrio, who is opposing Mr. Deters, filed a complaint yesterday with the Ohio Elections Commission, accusing Ms. Montgomery of laundering the contributions.

Ms. Montgomery gave $85,000 in airtime last week to the Republican party, $35,000 of which ended up being spent on ads for Mr. Deters. Mr. Petro gave $25,000 to the party, an unknown amount of which ended up going to Mr. Deters’s campaign.

Spokesmen for Ms. Montgomery, Mr. Petro, and the Ohio GOP said the donations of airtime are legal.

“What we did, we did legally,” said party spokesman Gary Abernathy. “It’s not even an issue. It’s perfectly legal.”

Mr. Cordray said that the actions violate the letter and the spirit of the elections laws.

“Are Ohio’s elections laws so toothless that they cannot be enforced whtn the state’s top law enforcement officer launders money?” he said.

Jon Allison, the deputy communications director for the secretary of state’s office, said that it isn’t illegal for a candidate to donate large amounts of airtime to a party, or for a party to give that time to another candidate.

He said there is nothing illegal about the donating candidate directing the party to use the airtime for any particular candidate – a charge Mr. Petro and Ms. Montgomery deny.

But he did say it is a loophole that allows a wealthy candidate to get around campaign finance reforms passed in 1995, which put strict limits on candidate-to-candidate transfers.

“It would appear that is one way to get around the contribution limits,” he said.

“What’s the point of having contribution limits is all it takes is this to get around them?” said Sean Mentel, spokesman for Democrat Louis Strike, Mr. Petro’s opponent. “What’s the point if you can get around it this easily?”

Of the $85,000 Ms. Montgomery donated, $35,000 went to Ohio House of Representatives candidates. Another donation of $15,000 went to the campaign of Chief Justice Thomas Moyer.

Plan offered to collect tardy taxes; Candidate Donofrio proposes program

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Yesterday, seven days before the election, John Donofrio, Democratic state treasurer candidate, proposed a program that he said would help counties collect $100 million in delinquent property taxes and make that money available to schools and local governments.

But critics said the proposal doesn’t make sense for counties outside large, urban areas of northeast Ohio.

Mr. Donofrio, who has been Summit County treasurer 19 years, wants to allow all of Ohio’s 88 counties to sell tax certificate liens. Essentially, counties would be able to sell liens on delinquent taxes to a private company at auction. The company then would collect the taxes and charge the taxpayers interest.

If the property owner did not pay up within a year, the private company could choose to foreclose on the land. If no one bought the land at a foreclosure sale, it would be forfeited to the company.

The benefit to counties, Mr. Donofrio said, is that they get the uncollected money upfront from the company, without having to go through a long process, which doesn’t guarantee that any money would be gained.

Under state law, Ohio’s largest 12 counties, including Lucas, already can hold this sort of certificate sale. Saturday, Mr. Donofrio’s Summit County held its first, selling 3,000 certificates to a Florida company for $6.2 million. He said $4 million in unpaid taxes came in when he sent a letter to all the delinquent property owners, telling them about the certificate sale, and an additional $6 million in back taxes were put onto payment plans.

But critics, including the campaign of Mr. Donofrio’s opponent, Republican Joe Deters, said that certificate sales don’t make sense for most counties, who don’t have enormous numbers of delinquent properties or have trouble selling land at foreclosure.

Even some county treasurers who strong ly support Mr. Donofrio said that extending the program to all 88 counties might not make sense.

“I know John wants to make some hay, and I support his election and he would be an excellent treasurer, but he’s off track here,” Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest said. “This is an extremely draconian way to collect taxes.”

Mr. Kest said that most states have either a foreclosure system or a lien system to collect unpaid taxes and that extending the liens as Mr. Donofrio suggests would mean Ohio had both.

Lucas County will have a small certificate sale soon, he said, but sales don’t make any sense for smaller counties without much urban property.

“It’s a good plan for the larger counties, but for the majority of counties, it doesn’t make sense,” Henry County Treasurer Calvin Spiess said. “In smaller counties, we know the people who pay the taxes, if they’re having trouble … we try to work with them. An outside company might not do that.”

Mr. Donofrio said he would not consider selling certificates on many properties, such as churches, land owned by people in bankruptcy, or those with small amounts of taxes due.

Cordray hopes negative ads will gain on Montgomery

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Democrat Richard Cordray, trailing badly in polls in the Ohio attorney general’s race, displayed three negative ads he hopes will draw him closer in the race with incumbent Betty Montgomery.

“I have to make sure that people realize the mistakes Betty Mont gomery has made, so they know who they are voting for,” Mr. Cordray said.

Two ads focus on the case of Anthony Dulkoski, a boy from Harrison County, whose mother was murdered when he was four years old. The Ohio Victims of Crime Fund, which pays money to those hurt by violent crime, awarded him $47,500.

Anthony was adopted by his grandparents, Betty and Thomas Dulkoski, so that he could be covered under their health insurance plan. In 1994, Ms. Montgomery sued the Dulkoskis to recover the money, saying that the boy was no longer eligible for the funds because he had been adopted.

“It was rough having her try to get the money back,” said Mr. Dulkoski, who appears in both ads and had a heart attack during the litigation he blames on the stress of being sued. “I think if this man [Mr. Cordray] was in office, we could have avoided all this hassle.”

After the case received media attention, Ms. Montgomery dropped the suit and apologized to the family. The money remains in a college fund for Anthony, now 13 and dreaming of being an astronaut.

But Mr. Cordray pointed to other problems with the way the crime victim’s fund is run, including high administrative costs and what he said is “an adversarial posture” toward victims.

The third ad is directed at the 1997 settlement Ms. Montgomery approved for4 a series of lawsuits filed against the state by inmate victims of the 1994 Lucasville prison riots, in which 11 people, including a prison guard, were killed.

Ms. Montgomery approved a $4.1 million settlement with the prisoners, the largest in the history of prison riots. The ad criticizes settling “without a fight.”

Ms. Montgomery has said re peat edly that the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections requested the settlement, and that it saved millions in legal fees had the suits been fought.

The ad criticizes Ms. Mont gomery for not doing enough to stop private prisons like the one in Youngstown, from which six prisoners escaped this summer.

Ms. Montgomery, a former Wood County prosecutor, is focusing on her law-enforcement positions, as she did in 1994, when she unseated incumbent Democrat Lee Fisher.

Full slate of down-ballot races; Candidates say experience is key to being treasurer

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page B1

COLUMBUS — The way John Donofrio sees it, this year’s state treasurer race should come down to experience – namely, his 19 year’s as treasurer of Summit County.

The way Joe Deters sees it, that sort of experience is next to useless, because the state treasurer’s job is so different from the county level.

Mr. Donofrio, a Democrat, and Mr. Deters, the Republican Hamilton County prosecutor, have traded barbs for months as they have run for the office of state treasurer.

Whoever holds the position is in charge of investing and protecting the state’s assets, as well as issuing debt.

The current treasurer, Republican Ken Blackwell, is running for secretary of state.

Mr. Donofrio is running on his experience in Summit County, where he has repeatedly been lauded for creative initiatives. Among them: discounts to homeowners who prepay their property tax bills; a linked deposit program that allows banks to reduce interest rates by 3 per cent on loans that create new jobs in the county, and a program that allows property owners to pay their tax bills monthly without penalty.

Those programs – and others – have earned Mr. Donofrio five Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties.

“We’ve done an excellent job of thinking of new, innovative programs to help taxpayers out,” he said.

Mr. Donofrio has said that, if elected, he would create a new statewide program called Schools First to help pay for the massive bills forthcoming in elementary and secondary education.

Schools First would allow businesses to pay their taxes early in exchange for a discount. The treasurer’s office would then invest that money in safe bonds and other financial instruments and set aside the extra money generated for schools. He said that Schools First could generate “tens of millions of dollars” in just a few years for schools.

Mr. Donofrio is quick to point out that Mr. Deters has never been a treasurer. He has been a county prosecutor for the last six years, and before that county clerk of courts. Putting away crooks, while admirable, is not preparatory to keeping the state’s books, Mr. Donofrio said.

But Mr. Deters said that being a county treasurer isn’t the best background for being state treasurer, since county treasurers don’t issue debt, which is a significant part of the state job.

Mr. Deters points to his financial experience – a spot on the county budget commission, overseeing the University of Cincinnati’s endowment by serving on its board, providing legal advice on investments to county commissioners – as evidence of his qualifications.

“We’ve got to have a treasurer’s office that is forward thinking, but fiscally conservative,” he said.

Mr. Deters’ proposals have centered on the debt side of the job. Right now, he said, about 16 state agencies borrow money separately, each requiring its own debt bureaucracy. He said he would consolidate their borrowing, saving millions in overhead.

He also said he would shift a portion of the state’s debt from long-term fixed-rate bonds into variable-rate bonds that would save the state money when interest rates drop.

Mr. Deters received fuel for his campaign earlier this fall, when the state performed its annual audit of Summit County. It said that Mr. Donofrio “did not perform timely and accurate reconciliations” in two major accounts in his office. One of them was left unreconciled for all of 1997.

“The bottom line is, he’s not doing his job,” Mr. Deters said.

Mr. Donofrio said the audit simply represents a “difference of philosophy” between state Auditor Jim Petro and himself on how books should be kept, and said that the “insignificant clerical errors” didn’t lead to any loss of money.

He also accuses Mr. Petro, a Republican, of making the audit “absolutely political” in order to help Mr. Deters. Mr. Petro denies the charge, noting that a similar accusation had been included on five other Summit County audits.

Mr. Donofrio criticized his opponent for running for treasurer simply as a stepping-stone to prepare for future state races. In 1993, Mr. Deters was offered the lieutenant governor’s spot on Governor Voinovich’s ticket, but rejected it to remain prosecutor. He is considered a rising star in the Ohio GOP.

In 1994, Mr. Donofrio considered a run for state treasurer, but withdrew before the primary. He has pledged not to run for any other statewide office: “My experience is aimed at being a great state treasurer, not anything else.”

Mr. Deters said that he is not sure what his future political plans would be, but said he would commit all his energy for the next four years to the treasurer’s office.

The race, which polls show to be the closest of the statewide contests, has featured plenty of punching and counterpunching between the two.

Mr. Deters: “John either doesn’t understand his job or doesn’t want to do it. I’ll stick my record against John’s any day.”

Mr. Donofrio: “Joe’s a lawyer, and if he wants to run for attorney general, that’s fine. But if you had $100,000 to invest for your retirement, money you needed, would you want advice from your county treasurer or your county prosecutor?”

Voters will decide for themselves on Nov. 3.

Secretary of State ad is called misleading; Complaint filed with elections board

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — The woman who wants to be Ohio’s chief elections official is accusing her opponent of an advertising infraction.

Charleta Tavares, Democratic candidate for secretary of state, filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission yesterday against Republican Ken Blackwell.

The complaint alleges that a Blackwell radio ad being run statewide, which closes with the phrase “Ken Blackwell, secretary of state,” is an attempt to fool voters into thinking he is the incumbent in the race.

Mr. Blackwell is state treasurer.

“This is a serious matter,” Ms. Tavares, a state representative from Columbus, said. “It appears he has elected himself before the people’s vote.”

Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said “the `for’ is implied” in the ad, and that it does not imply incumbency.

“We stand behind our ad,” Mr. LoParo said. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It is accurate.”

Ms. Tavares said it is important that the secretary of state, as the chief enforcer of Ohio’s elections laws, be above such shenanigans. “When you have a secretary of state who himself has violated state elections law, that’s a problem in the position,” she said.

The current secretary of state, Republican Bob Taft, is running for governor. Last Friday, his campaign was reprimanded by the elections commission for making two false statements in a television ad.

This is not the first time that a missing “for” has come before the elections commission this year. In August, Mr. Taft and Mr. Fisher filed complaints against one another after each ran TV ads featuring only “Bob Taft Governor” and “Lee Fisher Governor,” respectively. The commission, at a preliminary hearing, ruled that both cases had merit and scheduled them for a full hearing. But before that could happen, the two campaigns reached a private agreement to use “for governor” or similar language in all their ads, and withdrew their complaints.

In the past, the commission has found violations in cases like this one, according to commission executive director Philip Richter. But this would probably be the first time the “for” issue has come up in a radio ad, he said. The Tavares complaint could be heard before a probable cause panel of the commission on Tuesday, he said. If the panel finds there is sufficient evidence for a full hearing, that could be held late next week or on Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Ms. Tavares introduced a nonpartisan voter’s guide she said she intends to put in the hands of every registered voter if she is elected.

Taft still has $4 million, Fisher $632,000 for ads; Candidates file reports

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Heading into the stretch run of the governor’s race, Republican Bob Taft has more than six times as much money in the bank as Democrat Lee Fisher, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday.

The enormous gap is somewhat misleading because Mr. Fisher has already bought most of the air time he will need for TV commercials, while Mr. Taft still has some bills to pay. But Taft officials were excited by the numbers nonetheless.

“We’re quite pleased that we’re going to have ample resources to get our message out,” Taft spokesman Brett Buerck said.

According to the reports, Mr. Taft had $4.03 million on hand at the filing deadline, while Mr. Fisher had $632,000. Mr. Buerck said he expected the campaign would spend all of its money before the election, mostly on TV time.

In the first two weeks of October, the Taft campaign received $528,000 in contributions, compared with $295,000 for the Fisher campaign.

The Democrat has outspent the Republican overall so far, $7.0 million to $5.4 million, which accounts for some of the gap between the two sides in money on hand.

“We’re already prepaid for the majority of our planned TV time, and that explains some of the gap,” said Fisher spokeswoman Judy Barbao. “But we’re confident we are going to have enough money to get our message out to people.”

The two minor-party candidates, the Natural Law Party’s Zanna Feitler, who is listed on the ballot as an independent, and the Reform Party’s John Mitchel, each raised less than $1,000 in the last reporting period.

In most of the other statewide races, the reports mirror what poll results have been saying for months: A Republican sweep may be in the making.

In the auditor’s race, Republican incumbent Jim Petro has spent $1.04 million, compared with only $80,000 for his Democratic opponent, Louis Strike.

In the race for secretary of state, Republican Ken Blackwell has outspent his opponent, Charleta Tavares, by more than six times: $1.6 million to $241,000. Included in Mr. Blackwell’s total is a single $854,000 payment for television airtime, along with several large radio buys.

While Democrat Richard Cordray has outspent incumbent Attorney General Betty Montgomery in their race, $915,000 to $887,000, Ms. Montgomery has a stunning war chest left to spend before Election Day. She has $1.62 million on hand; Mr. Cordray has $43,000.

Ms. Montgomery, Mr. Petro, and Mr. Blackwell all have had commanding leads in recent polls.

And in the treasurer’s race, which polls have called the tightest of the down-ticket battles, Republican Joe Deters raised $728,000 in the first two weeks of October, compared with $18,000 for Democrat John Donofrio. Mr. Deters has outspent his opponent, $1.19 million to $513,000, and still has more cash on hand.

In the three races for the Ohio Supreme Court, the incumbents have outraised all their challengers.

Democrat Gary Tyack, who is running for chief justice, has outspent incumbent Thomas Moyer $296,000 to $32,000. But Mr. Moyer still has $531,000 in the bank, compared with $6,000 for the challenger.

Republican Justice Paul Pfeifer has outraised and outspent challenger Ronald Suster, and has 10 times more cash on hand, $588,000 to $59,000. Mr. Pfeifer has spent $434,000 on TV commercials.

In the lone bright spot for Democrats, incumbent Justice Francis Sweeney has been able to outspend his Republican challenger, Judge Stephen Powell, $407,000 to $41,000, with more than 85 per cent of Mr. Sweeney’s total devoted to television. But Mr. Powell has $100,000 left to spend, compared to $50,000 for Mr. Sweeney.

All told, the eight statewide Republican candidates outraised their Democratic opponents during the period, $1.689 million to $529,000.

This was the last campaign finance report the candidates are required to file before the Nov. 3 election.

Gubernatorial TV ad complaints rejected

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — The gubernatorial race’s mudslinging hit something of a brick wall yesterday when the Ohio Elections Commission ruled unanimously that two complaints – one by Democrat Lee Fisher, one by Republican Bob Taft – are without merit.

The complaints centered around an opposition television ad that allegedly twisted the truth.

The Taft ad in question omitted two words from a sentence in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article in a way the Fisher camp says changes the statement’s meaning. The Fisher ad said only Mr. Fisher was proposing a property tax cut, when Mr. Taft said he too proposed one, for some senior citizens.

But unlike last Friday, when the commission ruled against the Taft campaign for an ad it said had a “reckless disregard for the truth,” a subcommittee of the commission voted 3-0 in each case not to pursue the accusations any further. The panel said that the commission’s job is to find violations of law, not dispute fine shades of meaning in television ads.

“I think we’re getting too sophisticated,” commissioner Norton Webster said. “There is room for debate on these issues.”

The dispute over the Plain Dealer article had been raised before, when a Franklin County judge temporarily ordered the ad off the air because it was “false” and “misleading.”

The Ohio Supreme Court later ruled that the judge did not have jurisdiction over the matter, and that it must be forwarded to the elections commission.

Meanwhile, the Fisher campaign announced that all four gubernatorial candidates will be signing a pledge to run a “clean campaign” from here on out. But that’s not what two of the candidates say.

“I’m not ready to sign anything,” said Frank Reed, chairman of the Reform Party, whose candidate is John Mitchel. He said a few issues remain, including negative TV advertising, that he wants addressed. He said they cannot be cleared up in time for tonight’s four-way debate sponsored by The Blade.

The other minor-party candidate, the Natural Law Party’s Zanna Feitler, said she will not sign a pledge unless all four parties agree.

Without all four parties on board, the pledge’s sponsor, the Ohio Project on Campaign Conduct, cannot go ahead with it because it is a tax-exempt group that cannot exclude a candidate.

Taft spokesman Brett Buerck said Mr. Taft is expected to sign the agreement early today. Mr. Fisher has signed.

Mr. Reed criticized the Fisher camp for talking about the negotiations leading up to a pledge.

“Nobody was supposed to talk about it until there was an agreement,” he said.

The Ohio Project said it would prefer if candidates not discuss any accord until it is completed.

“We stress to them the fact that, when the negotiations remain confidential, you can have a much more frank discussion,” said Elizabeth Long Rhodes, state coordinator of the Ohio Project.

Fisher campaign chairman Alan Melamed said the campaign wants “everything out in the open” and that a lack of communication may have led to the dispute over who could release information.

“I had been contacted and advised that all four campaigns were ready to sign,” he said. “There was nothing about us not doing our own release.”

Ms. Rhodes would not comment on whether an agreement has been reached among the four.