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Welcome back to Last time we followed the money tied to the TPI Composites earmark revealing kickbacks to Dave Hobsonís and Steve Austriaís campaigns, false claims that Steve Austria created up to 100 jobs in Springfield, and also Dave Hobsonís stealthy association with Midland Properties which most likely brokered the real estate transaction on the now-vacant TPI Composites plant in Springfield. 

Today weíre going to look at Nextedge Research Park in Springfield where it looks like earmarks led to a job for Mrs. Steve Austria. In 2005, with mostly taxpayer dollars from Dave Hobson and Steve Austria earmarks, non-profit Nextedge Development Corporation purchased from Wellington Square, 205 acres of farmland just east of Springfield. Nextedge paid around $4.7 million for the property, or about $23,000 per acre. In 2005, undeveloped farmland in Ohio was going for a little over $3,000 an acre Ė thatís a tidy profit of about $4 million on a deal financed by the taxpayers. 

The interesting thing about this deal is at the time, Nextedge and Wellington Square were both wholly owned subsidiaries of the non-profit Turner Foundation in Springfield. To make a long story short, using tax dollars obtained in Dave Hobson and Steve Austria earmarks, the Turner Foundation bought the Nextedge property from itself for a $4 million profit. We canít tie Dave Hobson or Steve Austria to Wellington Square, however their inner circle of campaign contributors at the Turner Foundation are knee-deep in the deal. 

Fast forward to October, 2007: When Steve Austria announced his run for Congress, Mrs. Austria by law had to resign her tax-payer-funded $100,000 a year job as Dave Hobsonís District Director. Her last day of work was December 31, 2007. A few days later Mrs. Austria was hired as Director of Sales and Marketing for you guessed it; Nextedge. According to a Cox news reporter about the same time Nextedge hired Mrs. Austria, the IRS forced the Turner Foundation to divest itself of Wellington Square, the company that sold 205 acres to Nextedge. 

The scary thing about this is that itís almost legal, but not quite, because Steve Austria never revealed on his Federal Election Commission Financial Disclosure Statement that Mrs. Austria received compensation from Nextedge. Also, we have to ask what Mrs. Austria did during her employment with Nextedge. If she used her position with Nextedge or used Nextedge facilities to raise money or campaign for her husband that would also violate federal election law, not to mention trigger an IRS audit. By the way, as we speak, the Federal Election Commission is investigating those allegations; allegations that Steve Austria did not disclose Mrs. Austriaís employment with Nextedge, and that Mrs. Austria illegally used that position with a non-profit corporation to advance her husbandís campaign for Congress.

So there you have it, our tax dollars at work creating jobs for Steve Austriaís family and friends, which most likely were used as a platform to raise money for Mr. Austriaís run for Congress. 

But the plot thickens as next time weíll take a look at Qbase, another tenant at Nextedge that saw some heavy-hitter insiders go back and forth through the revolving door between government and the private sector. See you next time -- thank you for joining us at Americans for John Mitchel 2010. 

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John Mitchel is a Lt. Colonel, U.S.A.F. (Ret.) Use of his military rank, title and photograph in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Air Force or the Department of Defense.

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