3517.155 Hearing on complaint.

(A)

(1) Except as otherwise provided in division (B) of this section, the Ohio elections commission shall hold its first hearing on a complaint filed with it, other than a complaint that receives an expedited hearing under section 3517.156 of the Revised Code, not later than ninety business days after the complaint is filed unless the commission has good cause to hold the hearing after that time, in which case it shall hold the hearing not later than one hundred eighty business days after the complaint is filed. At the hearing, the commission shall determine whether or not the failure to act or the violation alleged in the complaint has occurred and shall do only one of the following, except as otherwise provided in division (B) of this section or in division (B) of section 3517.151 of the Revised Code:

(a) Enter a finding that good cause has been shown not to impose a fine or not to refer the matter to the appropriate prosecutor;

(b) Impose a fine under section 3517.993 of the Revised Code;

(c) Refer the matter to the appropriate prosecutor;

(2) As used in division (A) of this section, "appropriate prosecutor" means a prosecutor as defined in section 2935.01 of the Revised Code and either of the following:

(a) In the case of a failure to comply with or a violation of law involving a campaign committee or the committee's candidate, a political party, a legislative campaign fund, a political action committee, or a political contributing entity, that is required to file a statement of contributions and expenditures with the secretary of state under division (A) of section 3517.11 of the Revised Code, the prosecutor of Franklin county;

(b) In the case of a failure to comply with or a violation of law involving any other campaign committee or committee's candidate, or any other political party, political action committee, or political contributing entity either of the following as determined by the commission:

(i) The prosecutor of Franklin county;

(ii) The prosecutor of the county in which the candidacy or ballot question or issue is submitted to the electors or, if it is submitted in more than one county, the most populous of those counties.

(B) If the commission decides that the evidence is insufficient for it to determine whether or not the failure to act or the violation alleged in the complaint has occurred, the commission, by the affirmative vote of five members, may request that an investigatory attorney investigate the complaint. Upon that request, an investigatory attorney shall make an investigation in order to produce sufficient evidence for the commission to decide the matter. If the commission requests an investigation under this division, for good cause shown by the investigatory attorney, the commission may extend by sixty days the deadline for holding its first hearing on the complaint as required in division (A) of this section.

(C) The commission shall take one of the actions required under division (A) of this section not later than thirty days after the close of all the evidence presented.

(D)

(1) The commission shall make any finding of a failure to comply with or a violation of law in regard to a complaint that alleges a violation of division (A) or (B) of section 3517.21, or division (A) or (B) of section 3517.22 of the Revised Code by clear and convincing evidence. The commission shall make any finding of a failure to comply with or a violation of law in regard to any other complaint by a preponderance of the evidence.

(2) If the commission finds a violation of division (B) of section 3517.21 or division (B) of section 3517.22 of the Revised Code, it shall refer the matter to the appropriate prosecutor under division (A)(1)(c) of this section and shall not impose a fine under division (A)(1)(b) of this section or section 3517.993 of the Revised Code.

(E) In an action before the commission or a panel of the commission, if the allegations of the complainant are not proved, and the commission takes the action described in division (A)(1)(a) of this section or a panel of the commission takes the action described in division (C)(1) of section 3517.156 of the Revised Code, the commission or a panel of the commission may find that the complaint is frivolous, and, if the commission or panel so finds, the commission shall order the complainant to pay reasonable attorney's fees and to pay the costs of the commission or panel as determined by a majority of the members of the commission. The costs paid to the commission or panel under this division shall be deposited into the Ohio elections commission fund.

Cite as R.C. § 3517.155

History. Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. 25, HB 59, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2013.

Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.105, SB 295, §1, eff. 8/15/2012.

Effective Date: 12-22-1999; 03-31-2005; 04-26-2005