Dyce representative attends Ginter church service

SALEM — State Rep. Tim Ginter, whose other job is pastor of the Church at the Center in Salem, was surprised when he looked up from the pulpit at a recent Sunday service and saw his political opponent’s campaign manager among the congregation.

“He sat in the back row, but I didn’t notice him until about five minutes into the service,” Ginter said of Dan Ulloa, who attended the Oct. 16 service.

At first, Ginter thought Ulloa might be serving as a campaign tracker to record something that could be used against him in a campaign advertisement. Although Ulloa made no visible attempt to record any of the service, Ginter said he was still taken aback because he had seen Ulloa recording him at campaign events.

“This deeply, deeply troubles me. I would hope he was there to get some spiritual strength like everyone else who was there that morning,” he said.

The newspaper contacted Ginter after hearing about the visit to confirm that it had occurred. His sermon that Sunday was “Hope for America,” and Ginter said he did not say anything inflammatory or controversial, although there is always the chance something can be taken out of context and misrepresented.

“The thrust of my message was the fact we see America in a difficult period and many look to government and other sources for the answers when they should also be looking to God,” he said. “If I mentioned anything political it is that government has its place and role … but at the same time it is foolish to look to government as the savior of all our needs.”

Ginter said word spread afterward among his congregation about Ulloa’s presence “some were upset and others were offended … and first I was angry, but I’m just disappointed.”

Ginter said he had an usher tell Ulloa that he would like to speak with him afterward, but Ulloa did not stick around. He recognized Ulloa because he recorded him at other campaign events.

“I expect to be recorded at political rallies and events, but to come into a church to record a pastor and his words, that bothers me,” he said.

Ginter is a Republican and his opponent is Democrat John Dyce, who said he learned after the fact that Ulloa visited the church, but he does not believe his campaign manager was there to record Ginter.  “If he was recording him, I haven’t heard anything about that,” he said.

Ulloa did  not respond to an email and a phone call seeking comment.

Dyce pointed out that Ulloa is from New Jersey and may have been looking for a local church to attend that Sunday.

“I know he’s a fairly religious person … He said he attended and enjoyed the service,” he said.

“That’s wonderful, if  that is the case,” Ginter said of Ulloa’s visit. “If that is the reason he visited he is more than welcome.”

Some would argue that Ginter’s decision to be a state legislator should make what he preaches fair game and subject to public scrutiny. “I think it does open it up to that. People should know what he preaches in his church,” Dyce said.

Ginter, whose church is a non-denominational Christian church, disagrees. “I think there are areas even in this day that should be off limits,” he said.

As for Ginter being offended by Ulloa’s appearance, Dyce said, “Mr. Ginter is welcome to have his opinion on this, but if he’s taking offense at people who attend the church he should put up a sign out saying who’s welcome.”

Dyce said he is offended about flyers received this week by county residents claiming he would join with Hillary Clinton “to take our guns.” The flyers were from the Ohio Republican Party, and he said they misrepresented his position on the issue.

“Nobody’s taking anybody’s guns. Now that should be off limits — misrepresenting someone’s record,” Dyce said.

A lifelong gun owner, Dyce does believe in “common sense” restrictions on gun ownership. “If you are on a no-fly list, should you be able to get a gun?” he said.

The state Democratic House Caucus also notified the newspaper this week it filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission because Ginter failed to post a disclaimer on the campaign’s Twitter website identifying his campaign or Ginter as the source of the information. A preliminary review of the complaint is scheduled for early December.

“I have been in touch with Columbus about this. It’s very, very minor and they don’t believe it’s anything too grievous,” Ginter said.

Ulloa also issued a news release this week noting that in 2014 Ginter took a $12,155 donation from William Lager, the founder of the Electronic Classroom for Tomorrow, the largest online charter school in Ohio. A recent audit determined ECOT received state funding for 9,000 more students than it should have during this past school year, and it may be forced to return $64 million it was overpaid, some of which came at the expense of county school districts’ whose students were enrolled in ECOT.

“I actually voted for the charter school reform bill, and I think we need to keep trying to make sure the playing field is level,” Ginter said, adding his vote is an example of how he has supported legislation opposed by donors.

“I’ve actually opposed some who have donated to my campaign, and I’ve been shocked to get donations from others after voting against something they supported,” he said.