COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Republican congressman vying for U.S. Senate in Ohio has used a strip-club owner’s private plane to fly to campaign events, campaign finance records show.
U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci has paid Don Ksiezyk about $2,500 for flights between January and June, according to a report by The Columbus Dispatch on Renacci’s campaign filings.
Renacci has won the backing of Republican President Donald Trump in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.
Ksiezyk owns Peek-A-Boos and Bug-A-Boos in Cleveland and lives near an airport in Wadsworth, where Renacci lives and is the former mayor.
Records show Ksiezyk flew Renacci to appearances in Cincinnati, Toledo and the western Ohio city of Lima in a plane registered to his now-defunct company, American Nightlife Magazine. One recent flight included a round-trip Tuesday to Warren County, where Renacci was campaigning.
Leslie Shedd, a spokeswoman for the Renacci campaign, declined to discuss the flights or to tell the newspaper whether the two men ever had a business relationship. She told the paper it had “hit a new low by publicly shaming a private citizen,” referring to Ksiezyk.
The congressman declined further comment, telling the newspaper, “You already have my comment on that.”
The newspaper reported that Ksiezyk didn’t respond to its emails and calls. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Ksiezyk for comment also were unsuccessful. No publicly listed phone number could be found for him, and the two Cleveland clubs were closed Sunday.
Senate candidates are allowed to travel in private planes as long as they pay the equivalent rate, said campaign finance expert Erin Chlopak. House candidates are not allowed to travel in private planes.
Flight records and Renacci’s campaign Twitter account show the candidate used Ksiezyk’s plane 13 times between January and June. His campaign reimbursed Ksiezyk for $1,066 on March 31 and $1,467 June 30.
Renacci’s next report, covering the period between June 30 and Sept. 30, is due Oct. 15.
A review of other Senate candidates’ records shows that Senate candidates in Ohio traditionally drive or use commercial flights for their campaign stops.
Brown is mostly driven between stops and Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who won re-election in 2016, traveled through the state primarily by bus.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com