Who would have thought that a guy from Silicon Valley would post two winning bids for Ohio farm animals, but that was indeed the case Sunday when Mark Kvamme, a long-time buddy and big donor to Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich over the years, whose reputation as a shrewd and savvy investment decision maker won him a top spot first on the governor's staff and then on the board of the controversial job creation group JobsOhio, would throw down over $62,000 to be among the big bidders at the 2013 Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions.
The Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions livestock auction held Sunday, the last day of the 2013 Fair, showcased Ohio's premium livestock, premier Junior Fair exhibitors and generous supporters, Fair officials said. On the sale bill were grand champion and reserve champion meat chickens, market lambs, market barrows and market beef, as well as grand champion market goat, turkey and a block of Swiss cheese to represent the six dairy champions.
On Sunday at the WCOL Celeste Center located at the Ohio Expo Center, just east of The Ohio State University, Mark and his second but first Ohio wife, Megan, made Sidni Harris, Hocking County, and Fair officials very happen when their bid in the Grand Champion Market Barrow of $42,500 made them high bidders. The Kvammes, Sunbury, continued the good feelings when their next bid of $20,000, a record setter, bought the Grand Champion Market Goat exhibited by Michaela Ambos, Shelby County.
In 2010, the year Kasich won his governorship by a slim two percentage points, he lured Mark Kvamme, who was married at the time and residing in Silicon Valley in California, to Ohio to ply his wizardry on reforming how the state went about creating jobs.
Controversy beset Kvamme from the very beginning when Kasich crowned him king of development only to learn that the Ohio Constitution prohibited Kvamme, a non-resident at the time, of accepting his cabinet appointment. Gov. Kasich soon moved Kvamme to his staff until such time as he could then hop to the board of JobsOhio, Kasich and Kvamme's pet non-profit project to create jobs. Kasich critics have opposed its formation since it became the Republican-controlled legislature's first order of business in January of 2011.
Along the way, Mark Kvamme, whose reputation as a private venture capital investor includes early associations with and investments in such global businesses as Apple and LinkedIN, suffered a motorcross motorcycle accident landed him in hospital. In Ohio, Kvamme met and married Megan Browning, daughter of former Gov. George Voinovich budget director, Greg Browning.
With their bid for beef and goat, the Kvammes contributed to the Youth Reserve Program set a funding raising record of $267,400.
When Kasich first proposed JobsOhio during his election campaign, he said he would be chairman of a nine-member board. Once again the Ohio Constitution got in the governor's way, and he retreated back to just being governor. Forty days after the former Lehman Brothers managing director and Fox TV political talk show host was sworn in, JobsOhio was signed it into law.
In June of 2011, Kvamme was a moving object inside the Kasich administration, where he hopscotched from the governor's director of job creation to interim chief investment officer for JobsOhio, Ohio's new, privatized development agency, which of late has come under heavy fire for reports its lapse of ethics as it relates to alleged conflict of interest by Kasich and sic of the group's nine board members. .
About the same time, Democrats and unions opposed to Gov. Kasich revealed that Kvamme held personal stock holdings in a China company built on outsourced American IT jobs. In the fall of 2011, Democratic State Representatives asked the Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate apparent conflicts of interest that could prevent Mark Kvamme from serving as Gov. John Kasich’s economic development point man.
Kvamme eventually rises to be President of JobsOhio, attributing the creation of thousands of jobs, created and saved, to JobsOhio. About a year after the legislature created JobsOhio, the entity that bonded state liquor profits for quick cash now, payed the state $1.4 billion for the rights to Ohio’s liquor profits for the next 25 years.
Kvamme and Kasich, from the outset, have argued that keeping JobsOhio would enable the private group to work at the "speed of business" in stead of the "speed of statute." Critics continue to argue that secrecy is not good for the public but transparency is good. Ohioans are forced to trust or not trust the Kasich administration on whether the $100 million a year that JobsOhio will spend on economic development is a good deal.
By the summer of 2012, Kvamme said a transaction that would shift control of the state’s liquor profits to Gov. John Kasich’s privatized development agency, which had been delayed for months as various legal challenges were filed by Democrats and a liberal policy group, would produce $500 million for the governor's pet and private project.
By October of 2012, Kvamme was again on the move, this away from JobsOhio. The Kasich Administration announced Kvamme would step down and is John Minor would take his place. The venture capitalist went full circle, traipsing through Ohio government to start a venture capital firm reports said can raise at least $250 million for investments in Midwest businesses, the majority of which to be located in Ohio.
Kvamme has largely been out of the public's eye until Sunday when his big bids for beer and goat were winners.
In other Fair news, 2013 total sale was $344,700, a new record.