Is Steve Austria the Ohio GOP’s Charlie Rangel?

OpEd 8-22-2010

Is Steve Austria the Ohio GOP’s Charlie Rangel?

Republican Steve Austria may be laying low in the dark shadows brought on by the House Ethics Committee’s investigation of Charlie Rangel, but that convenient diversion is only short-lived. The Democrats are looking for a GOP scapegoat to take the pressure off their own scandals, and they may have found one in Congressman Austria. Much of Rangel’s agony is brought on by his incomplete and inaccurate Financial Disclosure Statements filed with the House Ethics Committee, but at least Rangel filed, something that it appears Steve Austria overlooked in November, 2007 shortly after he announced his initial run for Congress.

Federal law requires that first-time candidates like Steve Austria in 2007 file a Form B with the House Ethics Committee no later than 30 days after raising or spending $5,000. However, according to, Austria’s campaign raised more than $90,000 on October 27, 2007. Therefore Mr. Austria was required by law to file a personal Financial Disclosure Statement (Form B) no later than November 27, 2007, which he did not, unless the House Ethics Committee failed to make it available to the public. If Austria knowingly and willfully failed to file, or withheld information required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 he could receive one year in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

But failing to file may be the least of Austria’s worries as when he did get around to filing in May, 2008, he omitted some important information, not the least of which are Mrs. Austria’s employment with Nextedge Development Corporation and The University of Dayton, not to mention his association with the not-for-profit Dayton Development Coalition. It’s important to note that those may be legal activities, but knowingly and willfully failing to disclose them clearly violates the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Post-Watergate financial disclosure laws were passed to give the public a clear window into potential conflicts of interest by candidates for the U.S. Congress. The first Financial Disclosure Statement filed by a non-incumbent is the most important because it serves as a baseline ethics metric for what could be a decades-long career in Congress, as is the case with New York Congressman Charlie Rangel. Whether or not Mr. Rangel weathers the Ethics Committee hearings, his legacy is forever tainted. As far as Steve Austria’s legacy – well, we’ll have to see how that unfolds if and when the House Ethics Committee holds true to their promise to investigate both Democrats and Republicans with equal intensity.

Contact information:

John Mitchel
Beavercreek, OH
(937) 427-8442

Dayton Daily News Fronting For Self-absorbed Politicians

OpEd 5-17-10
Dayton Daily News fronting for self-absorbed politicians

RE: “ Springfield base gets missions”, Dayton Daily News, May 8, 2010

Propaganda artists Jack Torry and John Nolan couldn’t have written a more one-sided piece on the recent Pentagon announcement that the MQ-1 Predator aircraft is on its way to the Springfield Air National Guard. This article is nothing more than stroking whiny politicians from both parties looking for top cover as the November election approaches.

First, Torry and Nolan either didn’t get their facts straight or were lied to by Sherrod Brown, Ted Strictland, John Boehner and Steve Austria. They wrote that moving the MQ-1 (Predator) mission to Springfield “will shift the base’s mission to unmanned aircraft and retain 866 jobs.” At the Miami Valley Military Affairs Association luncheon in Springfield on May 3, 2010 (one day before the primary), Col. Craig Wallace, Vice-Commander for the 178th Fighter Wing, stated there were never more than 360 jobs at the Springfield location. You may agree it’s largely disingenuous that the article claims to “retain” over 500 jobs that never existed in the first place. That’s nothing new for career politicians like Brown, Strictland, Boehner, and Austria , but it’s very disappointing coming from journalists who should be reporting the facts accurately.

Actually there’s good reason to base Predators returning from Afghanistan and Iraq in Springfield , but when career politicians from both parties knock themselves out to take credit for those jobs, we should ask the question, “What’s driving the train here, support for the warfighter or the November election?” You don’t have to go far to answer that question. Not once in Torry and Nolan’s front page article, nor in another piece on page A6 was there any mention of how the Predators coming to Springfield helps the warfighter or saves scarce taxpayer dollars. Instead career politicians from both parties persist with their “it’s-all-about-jobs” mantra while the troops and taxpayers remain an afterthought in both theory and practice.

It’s important that we review history within the context of the announcement. Earlier BRACs that took jobs away from Wright Patt were forgotten long ago. The 906th F-16 Tactical Fighter Group and 4950th Test Wing were both national treasures in providing warfighting capability, and those departures lost more jobs than the 178th in Springfield could ever hope to create, but it did help Springfield’s favorite son Dave Hobson get re-elected at least six times. And what about NAFTA, pushed by Republicans and signed into law by Bill Clinton that sent hundreds of thousands of Ohio jobs offshore? Republicans Portman, Kasich and Austria , and Democrats Strictland and Brown all seem to lose their memory when it comes to accountability for those one-sided trade deals except when it comes to blaming the other side.

It’s hard to tell who screams loudest when the Obama administration bails out banks, financial institutions and automobile manufacturers, but of course it’s a different story when Obama borrows and sends the proceeds to career politicians and their special interests who have caused the mess in the first place and now desperately need talking points as the 2010 election approaches. It’s tragic that the Dayton Daily News continues to sacrifice its journalistic integrity by enabling the same bad-actor politicians to systematically dismantle freedom and economic opportunity for future generations of Americans.

John Mitchel
LtCol, USAF (Ret.)
(937) 427-8442

The Rest Of The Story

February 1, 2010

The rest of the story

RE: “Greene County snubs advocate of its interests,” Dayton Daily News, Friday, January 29, 2010. Greene County Commissioners Marilyn Reid and Alan Anderson were correct in significantly reducing taxpayer contributions to the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC), except their rationale for doing so didn’t reveal the whole story. True enough, the budget is tight, but even in good times our elected officials shouldn’t be throwing money over the fence to special interests without competition for that work, without value added and without oversight. That’s precisely what happened in 2005-2006 with the Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) Initiative Agreement between Greene County and the DDC. The simple truth is the only jobs protected by this effort were high priced consultants, lobbyists and career politicians who received kickbacks to their political campaigns. Here are the facts to support that assertion.

In 2005 and 2006, the last 21 months of the $1.9 million BRAC Initiative Agreement, the Dayton Development Coalition also received a $2.34 million Third Frontier grant through Development Research Corporation, a non-profit company fronting for the DDC. In 2005-2006 the DDC paid over $500,000 to their President and CEO, over $300,000 to a Washington lobbying firm currently under investigation by the FBI, $190,000 to Qbase which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and over $200,000 to two other consultants, not to mention at least $50,000 on domestic and foreign travel.* Although this is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s hard to disagree that it reveals a broad pattern of self-dealing, waste and abuse, if not blatant corruption by the Dayton Development Coalition and their inner circle.

Ms. Reid and Mr. Anderson finally understand that Greene County and Ohio taxpayer dollars had minimum impact if any at all on saving or creating jobs at Wright Patterson. But what they did impact was the financial well-being of the special interests that recycled that money back to the politicians who in the end took credit for job creation they had nothing to do with. This is an insult to Greene County taxpayers, not to mention Wright Patt professionals that day in and day out provide the real value added to our warfighters who put everything on the line to protect our freedom and liberty.

John Mitchel
Beavercreek, OH (Greene County)
(937) 427-8442

*Source: BRAC Initiative Agreement, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Election Commission records and other documents obtained in a public records disclosure lawsuit against Greene County Commissioners (Case #: 2009CV0305).