There were lots of lobbyists sprinkled among the 2,500 or so dinner guests who showed up Friday night in Columbus to hear former President Bill Clinton, among others, speak about all the issues—minimum wage, pay equity, women's health rights, right to work, right to vote, to name a few—Democrats can successfully contrast themselves this year with Republicans.
President Clinton delivered remarks that boiled down to this: If Democrats want to win this year, an off-election year, like they have done in Ohio during presidential years, they should show up and vote in spite of voter suppression activities by Republican Gov. John Kasich and a GOP-dominated legislature that continues to send him bills he signs that are later judged by a court to be in violation of the constitution.
Sprinkled through out the Celeste Center in Columbus last night were many lobbyists and others who participate in the political process called governance. It's no secret that Gov. John Kasich has a well-deserved reputation for being mean, dating back to his earliest days in elected political office. One photographer shared his mean-Kasich story with CGE, describing a photo shoot where Kasich, in 2010, knocked on doors of homes that people were not home at, and lit into one photographer for doing exactly what he had done as he approached the front door of a home in Worthington.
One long-time, well-respected lobbyist reported to CGE that not a few of his clients who have been present in meetings with Gov. Kasich said he didn't mince words when he warned them to not give money to Ed FitzGerald, his Democratic Party endorsed challenger this year, and to not give money to David Yost, Ohio's Republican state auditor. Why would a Republican governor, elected in the same year as Yost, issue a warning that campaign cash had better not flow to the first-term auditor this year? Simple, Yost, in his capacity as auditor, dared meddle in the inner workings of JobsOhio, the governor's super secret job creation group that by many accounts, not the least of which is their own reporting, hasn't delivered the big bang Gov. Kasich said the nonprofit exempted from public scrutiny has delivered over its three years of existence.
Kasich, a former congressman who went to work for Lehman Brothers and then Fox News, and Yost, a former newsman and Delaware County prosecutor, got into a dust-up over Yost's authority to audit the books of JobsOhio. "We think that the auditor should audit all public money," Kasich told reporters at the time. "The problem gets to be when you're auditing private companies. ... Plain and simple, it's no more complicated than that." Yost issued a subpoena calling on JobsOhio to turn over financial records, something it had been pursuing since June of 2012, according to published reports. The state auditor routinely audits public agencies to check that tax dollars are spent properly.
"We've been reaching out and trying to start the audit," said Carrie Bartunek, a Yost spokeswoman "We've asked for financial statements from them. We've asked for records. We did not receive them and did not get cooperation to get started." The purpose of the subpoena, it was noted, is to obtain records the auditor's office needs to conduct the audit and move forward, she said. JobsOhio promised to provide the records to state auditors by March of 2013. Yost issued a report about seven months ago that contained four noncompliance citations and four recommendations. The findings addressed strengthening internal controls, potential conflicts of interest and maintaining adequate documentation.
In quick fashion, the Ohio Senate and House rushed through a bill that keeps JobsOhio off-limits to the reach of the auditor's office. Gov. Kasich didn't delay in signing it into law, since it ensured that JobsOhio won't have to worry about audits based on a lease of state wholesale liquor profits, which was considered private money and thereby out of the reach of Yost. Meanwhile, JobsOhio's funds will only have to pass muster with a private firm hired to do the job, and few other than Kasich cultists believe the public will be satisfied with findings.
As one staunch Democrat noted at the dinner and fundraiser, as the trial involving Republican state treasurer Josh Mandel progresses, with entanglements already reaching into other Republican offices like that of Congressman Jim Renacci, Republicans will scatter to protect and distance themselves from Mandel's mess. Gov. Kasich is widely known to be very much concerned with John Kasich, first and foremost. He'll help others Republicans on his ticket if it also helps him. As for Yost, it appears Gov. Kasich has already sent out a decree that his campaign coffers should be as bare as poor Mother Hubbard's pantry.