Wall Street Journal
March 30 2012

In Ohio, Mystery Robo-Calls Upend Race .


A mysterious group involved in the upset of an Ohio Democrat during
the congressional primary earlier this month continues to befuddle
both the loser and winner of that race, as well as the Justice

David Krikorian, a Cincinnati-area Democrat, appeared to have his
party's nomination locked up, giving him a chance to take on a
vulnerable Republican incumbent, Rep. Jean Schmidt. But Mr. Krikorian
was upended by a 61-year-old truck driver who made $15,000 last year,
didn't campaign and was unknown to the Democratic Party in the
Cincinnati area district.

The trucker, William Smith, benefited from a series of robo-calls
suggesting President Barack Obama supported him. The messages said
they came from the "Victory Ohio" super PAC, but neither the Federal
Election Commission or the Ohio State elections board has a record of
such a group.

For weeks, Mr. Krikorian, 44, an Armenian-American, has said he
believes Turkish-Americans and operatives with the Turkish Coalition
of America were behind the calls. Mr. Krikorian has been involved in
several public disputes over Turkish-American groups' financial
support of Ms. Schmidt. Tensions between Armenians and Turks go back
100 years to the Turkish massacre and deportations of more than one
million Armenians.

Ms. Schmidt also lost her primary to physician Brad Wenstrup, who will
likely win the House seat in the solid Republican district.

This week, a new FEC report showed the Turkish Coalition of America's
political-action committee, which has denied any involvement in the
robo-calls, donated $1,000 to the Ohio Congressional Victory Fund in
late February. Mr. Krikorian at first said the report showed a link
between robo-calls and the Turkish-American group, but that connection
didn't seem to pan out.

The Ohio Congressional Victory Fund is part of Athens, Ga.-based PDS
Compliance Inc., a longtime Republican campaign accounting operation.
"All the committees here are registered with the FEC," said PDS
President Paul Kilgore. He noted this company manages the "Ohio 2012
Victory Fund," not "Victory Ohio." He added: "We don't know anything
about them - if you find out, let us know, cause we're getting a lot of

G. Lincoln McCurdy, treasurer of the Turkish Coalition of America's
PAC, said in a statement that the $1,000 contribution was for an Ohio
GOP congressional fund-raiser on Feb. 16, hosted by House Speaker John
Boehner (R., Ohio). He said the PAC "had no involvement in or
awareness of unregistered PAC activities, including Victory Ohio Super
PAC, in recent Ohio congressional primary elections."

The U.S. Attorney in southern Ohio has begun examining whether the
robo-call group violated federal-election disclosure laws. Fred
Alverson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, confirmed that the
government is reviewing the situation; he called it unusual, but
wouldn't say more.

Mr. Smith, for his part, said that he had just filed to run in
December to get some "empathy for the working people" and has no idea
who ran the automated call campaign. He said he spent just a few
hundred dollars campaigning, mostly on filing fees and gasoline to
drive around the district, reaching out to people "at convenience
stores, gas stations, that sort of thing."

On primary night, he said he was in his 18-wheeler driving between
Cincinnati and Cleveland when he got a call from a friend saying,
"Butch, you've won the nomination for the Democratic Party."

"I said, 'Sparky, please don't mess with me, it's not funny,' " said Mr. Smith.

Corrections & Amplifications
The Turkish Coalition of America's political-action committee donated
to the Ohio Congressional Victory Fund, an FEC report says. An earlier
version of this article incorrectly called the group the Turkish
American Coalition, and didn't specify that the donation was made by
its PAC.

- Douglas Belkin contributed to this article.


From: Baghdasarian