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OP-ED


Op-Ed 

Who will guard the guards?
February 13, 2008  

            One of the ten reforms in the 1994 Republican Contract with America vowed to put Congress on the same legal footing as the citizens.  Think about that for a second!  Republicans freely admitted that both they and the Democrats had risen above the law.  Nothing came from that, but just as economic markets correct, so do political markets, especially when monopoly control is lost in an election as occurred when Mike DeWine lost his Senate seat to Sherrod Brown in 2006.  For nearly a quarter century Mike DeWine was the “Godfather of the Republican Party” in Greene County, and with him gone from Washington, the scramble is on for those who rode the wave on his coattails, including Steve Austria and Dave Hobson, who will be hard pressed to defend a positive legacy as 9-term Congressman in Ohio’s 7th Congressional District. 

            DeWine worked his way up from Assistant Greene County Prosecutor to U. S. Senator with a seat on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.  To put it bluntly, if you were a Greene County Republican, and unless you were an ally or friend of Mike DeWine, you had no chance to be elected to public office or to receive appointment to a political patronage job in Greene County.  That was especially true in the Greene County Prosecutor’s office as well as the U.S. Attorney’s office in Dayton.  All the key players, elected or appointed, have strong ties to Mike DeWine.

            Steve Haller, the current Greene County Prosecutor, worked for the law-firm DeWine, (Bill) Schenck and Rose from 1978 to 1982.  Haller replaced DeWine in 1975 as Asst. County Prosecutor and then replaced Bill Schenck as Prosecutor in 2006 when Schenck retired.  Haller also serves as Secretary for the Greene County Republican Central Committee. In 2006, DeWine nominated Schenck for Assistant U.S. Attorney, a position once held by Greg Lockhart, previously a partner (1982-1985) with Schenck, Schmidt and (Greg) Lockhart in Xenia.  Mike DeWine also nominated Greg Lockhart for U.S. Attorney, who was appointed as one of 93 U.S. Attorneys by George W. Bush in 2001.  If you see a pattern, buckle up, because it gets even more interesting.

            Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Schenck’s spouse worked as Mike DeWine’s state office manager for nearly a decade, and from 2003 to 2007 earned $367,666.46,* including a $19, 655.53* parting gift from the “Resolution and Reorganization Reserve” two months after DeWine left the Senate.  Mrs. Schenck moved over to the private sector for a while, but when Eileen Austria left Congressman Dave Hobson’s office to campaign for her husband Steve, Barbara Schenck went back through the revolving door to replace Mrs. Austria, who from 2003 to 2007 was paid $466,287.87* as Hobson’s District Director. (*Source: www.legistorm.com )

            Mrs. Austria and Mrs. Schenck are also connected by their membership on the Dayton Development Coalition’s (DDC) Wright Patt 2010 Committee to advise the Coalition on BRAC matters on behalf of their (former) bosses, Dave Hobson and Mike DeWine.  As members of that committee, Eileen Austria and Barbara Schenck were very close to those on the Dayton Development Coalition, i.e., J.P. Nauseef, Brad Tidwell and retired Air Force LtGen John Nowak, who in 2003 solicited through the County Administrator Commissioners Ralph Harper, Reed Madden and Marilyn Reid for a grant and interest-free loan of $1 million to a DDC front organization called Miami Valley Economic Development Projects, Inc.  The Dayton Development Coalition and “Projects” then signed a no-bid contract with The Greentree Group for $1.9 million, which included almost $1 million of Ohio tax dollars over and above the Greene County loan and grant.  Greentree then non-competitively assigned work for $560 thousand dollars to Paul Magliochetti and Associates (The PMA Group), a Washington lobbying firm.  It’s important to note that Briggs Shade, a lobbyist with the PMA Group, also sits on the Wright-Patt 2010 Committee along with Barbara Schenck and Eileen Austria.  These contracts ran from 2003 to 2006, and during that timeframe Greentree and PMA partners and associates donated over $50,000 dollars to “Dave Hobson for Congress.” During that same time period, Mrs. Austria was paid over $51,000 from “Dave Hobson for Congress” as a “Political Consultant” in addition to her salary of over $460,000.  (Source: www.opensecrets.org)  Steering no-bid defense contracts toward campaign contributors is precisely what former California Congressman “Duke” Cunningham did to earn eight years in federal prison.  I have credible evidence that Dave Hobson influenced the $1 million interest-free loan/grant to Miami Valley Economic Development Projects that in turn hired Greentree who in turn hired PMA as BRAC lobbyists.  That’s bad enough in and of itself, but President of the Greene County Commission, Rick Perales, with the help of the Greene County Prosecutor’s office, has aggressively withheld documents that could clear the Commission of alleged wrongdoing.    

            Since April of 2007 I have been requesting local, state and federal agencies investigate these alleged abuses. (See www.reformcongress.com > “Links” > Request For Investigation). You would think that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Ohio Auditor of State, the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Ethics Commission, the FBI, the Ohio Inspector General, the Federal Elections Commission, the Ohio Secretary of State, the Ohio Elections Commission or the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee would at least spend an hour or two on a “show cause” hearing, but nothing.  Most agencies did not respond at all, and those that did claimed the matter was not within their jurisdiction.  There were two other “non-responses” you may find interesting.  Greene County Prosecutor Steve Haller originally advised me that the Beavercreek Police Department had jurisdiction, but later changed to U.S. Attorney, Greg Lockhart.  Individuals in Lockhart’s office denied jurisdiction.  That brings us full circle back to former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine.

            In my opinion, there is a logical explanation why not one of the twelve above-mentioned offices, agencies or commissions accomplished even a cursory investigation of these serious allegations.  From my perspective, Greene County Prosecutor Haller, U.S. Attorney Lockhart and others including the Democrats, knew exactly where an investigation would take them, and that would further peel away the facade that Ohio has repaired its tarnished ethical image.  Ohio’s last governor shamed a proud family name by leaving office as the only Ohio Governor convicted of a crime while in office.  Furthermore, Ohio has two former Congressmen in federal prison, Democrat Jim Traficant and Republican Bob Ney.  Hobson was good friends with Ney, often traveled with Ney on Congressional junkets and defended him until the eleventh hour.  Number two behind Ohio on the list of Congressmen in prison is California with shamed Navy pilot and former San Diego Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham doing eight years for steering defense contracts toward his campaign contributors, precisely what Dave Hobson allegedly did with the $1 million grant and interest free loan to Miami Valley Economic Development Projects which in turn money-laundered $560 thousand dollars toward the PMA Group, a Washington lobbyist.

            Over the years we have survived stock market corrections caused by both over and under regulation by state and federal governments.  Distortions in the political market place are just has common and egregious, but they often receive less visibility in the media.  The post-Watergate fix focused on disclosure, and thus, most politicians, especially the incumbents, perceive disclosure as the end of compliance.  To be sure, disclosure should be a point of departure, not the end of the road in campaign finance law enforcement.  Although there’s probably significant influence peddling going on underneath the radar, in this article I have identified real, verifiable conflicts of interest that deserve further scrutiny, but no one seems to care.  And that’s a shame because the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution promises that every citizen deserves equal protection under the law, which also implies equal opportunity to be prosecuted under the law, even if you are in bed with the prosecutors.

 

Who will guard the guards themselves?
(quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)

Juvenal

 

Contact information:
John Mitchel
(937) 427-8442

www.reformcongress.com
   

 

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