David A. Fahrenthold at NYT:
J.D. Vance was not running for office. He said it irked him when people assumed that. Instead, in 2017, he said he had come back to Ohio to start a nonprofit organization.
Mr. Vance gave that organization a lofty name — Our Ohio Renewal — and an even loftier mission: to “make it easier for disadvantaged children to achieve their dreams.” He said it would dispense with empty talk and get to work fighting Ohio’s toughest problems: opioids, joblessness and broken families.
“I actually care about solving some of these things,” Mr. Vance said.
Within two years, it had fizzled.
Mr. Vance’s nonprofit group raised only about $220,000, hired only a handful of staff members, shrank drastically in 2018 and died for good in 2021. It left only the faintest mark on the state it had been meant to change, leaving behind a pair of op-eds and two tweets. (Mr. Vance also started a sister charity, which paid for a psychiatrist to spend a year in a small-town Ohio clinic. Then it shuttered, too.)
Mr. Vance is now the Republican nominee for Senate in Ohio, running on a promise to tackle some of the same issues his defunct organization was supposed to have. On the campaign trail, he has said his group stalled because a key staff member was diagnosed with cancer.
During its brief life, Mr. Vance’s organization paid a political consultant who also advised Mr. Vance about entering the 2018 Senate race. It paid an assistant who helped schedule Mr. Vance’s political speeches. And it paid for a survey of “Ohio citizens” that several of the staff members said they had never seen.
The collapse of Mr. Vance’s nonprofit group was first reported last year in Insider. Now, Ohio Democrats use the group as an attack line. “J.D. Vance was in a position to really help people, but he only helped himself,” says an ad created by Mr. Vance’s opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan.