Only six days before the election, Democratic congressional candidate Aftab Pureval has fired his campaign manager and long-time friend, Sarah Topy, along with other unnamed staff members based on "new information."
Pureval, in a written statement, did not specially say what "new information" prompted the last-minute house-cleaning, but on Tuesday, the Ohio Republican Party held a press conference accusing a Pureval operation of infiltrating the campaign of his opponent, Republican incumbent Steve Chabot, and tampering with the campaign's data base.
It also comes the day before Pureval and his campaign is to face an accusation that about $30,000 in funds from Pureval's county clerk of courts campaign account was improperly spent on the congressional campaign.
"Our campaign holds itself to the highest standards of professionalism and accountability,'' Pureval said in his written statement.
"Yesterday, we learned new information that led us to believe that members of our staff may not have lived up to those standards,'' the 37-year-old Democrat said. "Because we did not want this issue to be a distraction in the final days, I've also accepted the resignation of my campaign manager."
Pureval, a former lawyer at Procter & Gamble and Ohio State University student body president, emerged as a fresh new face in local Democratic politics two years ago when he ran for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts and did what seemed at the time to be impossible – to defeat a Republican named Winkler, in this case, Tracy Winkler.
The Democrat has barely served one year of his four-year term as clerk before announcing he would take on Chabot, a Westwood Republican who has held the seat for all but two years since 1994.
They are running in Ohio's 1st Congressional District, which includes western Hamilton County, parts of northeastern Hamilton County and all of Warren County.
The two candidates and their allies have spent millions on the race, seen by Democrats as one of their best chances to pick up a Republican seat as they try to win back control of the U.S. House.
Pureval said that "while the actions of a few are inappropriate, I am proud of the campaign and the issues we're fighting for. As a whole, my team is filled with hard-working, dedicated staff and volunteers who are committed to our community and hold themselves to the highest standards."
Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said the firings clearly stem from the GOP's discovery of someone infiltrating Chabot's campaign.
Pureval's written statement, Triantafilou said, "raises a lot more questions that it answers."