Ohio GOP State Committeeman and Treasurer Johnson Denounced by Cousin in Re-Election Bid

Video footage of a rally in North Lima, Ohio, on Sunday shows Frederick “Sam” Johnson standing with Ohio Republican State Central Committee candidate Rick Barron and denouncing Barron’s opponent, Sam’s own cousin David Johnson.

David Johnson is the incumbent State Central Committeeman in the 33rd district (Columbiana and Mahoning counties) and also serves as Ohio Republican Party (ORP) treasurer. He and Barron will compete for the August 2 special primary committee seat. 

“He’s a pathological liar,” Sam Johnson said of David Johnson. “He can’t help himself. He doesn’t know any better; he doesn’t know anything different.”

Sam Johson said he was characterizing his relative’s behavior in litigation in which each cousin sued the other. The case concerned disputes over land leases between David’s company Summitville Tiles and Sam Johnson’s business Summitcrest Holdings. Sam Johnson told The Ohio Star that David Johnson filed “fraudulent affidavits with the state of Ohio … regarding toxic waste dumping” in the course of the lawsuits. 

Asked why he believed he had to take a stand in the race between David Johnson and Barron, Sam Johnson said, “One [candidate] is ethical, one is not.”

Ethics is the main subject of Barron’s campaign against David Johnson, who several GOP State Central Committee members took to court along with the state party itself and its Chair Robert Paduchik last November. ORP members Laura Rosenberger, JoAnn Campbell, Mark Bainbridge, Joe Miller and Denise Verdi have alleged that, under the defendants’ leadership of the state party, “significant funds have gone missing from ORP financial statements without adequate explanation … .” Their petition asserted that the allegedly missing money amounted to more than $3 million. 

The plaintiffs further accuse the party chair and treasurer of other acts such as using ORP funds to support unendorsed Republican primary candidates, including Gov. Mike DeWine before he recently won the party’s nomination for reelection. Petitioners also challenge the process by which they were removed from ORP subcommittees that provide financial oversight. They have characterized their ejections from those committees as retributive and contrary to party bylaws.

Among petitioners’ goals in the lawsuit are to require the ORP to perform regular audits of its finances, something which they say party rules call for but which allegedly has been neglected over several years. Plaintiffs also want to be readmitted to their oversight subcommittee seats.

Franklin County’s Court of Common Pleas dismissed the committeepersons’ lawsuit on a technicality last month, but the plaintiffs are appealing that dismissal. 

Meanwhile, Barron, a retired tile company owner and 2018 Mahoning County commissioner candidate, presses his own electoral case against David Johnson to northeast Ohio Republican voters. 

“The fundamental issue in the race is whether the State Central Committee can continue on the path of cronyism and special interest or if the people control the elections, the votes and what our party does,” he told The Star. “It’s truly between citizen candidate and establishment swamp creature.” 

The three main themes of Barron’s platform are ending ORP primary endorsements, making party expenditures more transparent via annual audits, and requiring committee votes to be made in the open via roll call.

Sam Johnson said he chose to get involved in favor of Barron after not being politically active since the 1980s and ’90s, during which he was a member of the Columbiana County Republican Central Committee. Having moved out of his election precinct, he resigned as a member of the the county organization. 

David Johnson did not return a call for comment.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Rick Barron” by Rick Barron. 



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