At approximately 9:50 p.m. Monday, an already contentious race for Ohio’s first congressional district took an extraordinarily bizarre turn.
Aftab Pureval, the Democratic candidate in the race, filed a criminal complaint on behalf of his fiancée with the Cincinnati Police Department, alleging “menacing by stalking” by an unknown suspect.
The complaint, obtained by The Daily Beast, contends that since the day Pureval announced his candidacy, “unknown suspects” have been sitting outside the victim’s home, “banging loudly on the door,” and “attempting to photograph through the windows.”
Pureval and his fiancée had moved from Hyde Park, which is outside of the district, to downtown Cincinnati, but a source close to the candidate said that they are still in the process of bringing over some of their belongings.
This particular incident, the source said, occurred when the woman had returned alone to move items. Pureval’s opponent, Steve Chabot, the Republican incumbent, has been critical of Pureval's residence and even sent volunteers to see if they were still living in the Hyde Park home just last week.
That fact has led to insinuations that someone affiliated with Chabot’s campaign had something to do with the incident on Pureval’s property.
“It’s completely unacceptable, whoever did it,” a source close to Pureval told The Daily Beast, requesting to speak on background. “There’s been inconsistencies in all the reports. It doesn’t take much of a leap to see who would want to intimidate him. They’re worried about him being in the race.”
In a 911 emergency phone call, obtained by The Daily Beast, Pureval’s fiancée, whose name was redacted from the complaint, sounded deeply afraid.
“I’m all alone and there’s someone knocking at the door really loud, calling our names and I don’t recognize who it is,” the woman said.
She added: “I think they’re trying to get in. I don’t know.” She described the individual as a white male in his twenties or early thirties.
Cincinnati police are now investigating the incident, but there might be more to the story than just a random, aggressive visitor.
Pureval is challenging 11-term incumbent Chabot, and since announcing his run just last week, Chabot’s campaign has made hay about the Democrat’s place of residence.
Pureval is in the process of selling a home—the one where the alleged stalking took place—in the Hyde Park neighborhood, which is not located within the district for which he is running to represent.
“On the very day he announced he was running, he lied about something as basic as where he lives," Cody Rizzuto, Chabot's campaign spokesman, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "His website claims he lives downtown, but in reality he lives in a $400,000 mansion in Hyde Park, which isn’t even in the district. Perhaps he needs an escort to show him around town."
While there is no requirement for a candidate to live in a district to run for it, Pureval said that he and his fiancée are living downtown, within the first district, having moved there the day before he announced his run.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Pureval did in fact change his voter registration to the downtown address last week. But Chabot’s campaign questioned whether he had actually moved.
What’s more is that Rizzuto also told the publication that late last week, several groups of volunteers did stop by the Hyde Park home to determine if Pureval still lived there.
It’s not uncommon for campaigns to have trackers in competitive races, but the source close to the candidate pointed to inconsistencies in the Chabot campaign’s lines about how many people were there and when.
A spokesperson for Chabot explicitly shot down any insinuation that the campaign was involved in the incident that sparked the police report.
“No one from our campaign would ever engage in that kind of behavior,” Rizzuto said. “And for the press, Aftab’s campaign, or anyone else to insinuate that we were involved with what happened on February 5 is irresponsible, unethical, and ridiculous.”
The Chabot campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.