New Act Rewarding Employers Who Hire Vets Highlighted as Sen. Sherrod Brown Visits Lakewood Firm

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — After touring a recession success story at GrafTech International in Lakewood Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown spoke about what he hoped would become another example of victory in the face of daunting odds — hiring veterans.

Noting that about one in five veterans age 20-24 are unemployed, Brown said, “The government spent plenty of money to send them off to war, we ought to be putting money into job training and incentives.”

Inspector general’s talk at GOP dinner faces scrutiny

Ohio Inspector General Randy Meyer’s recent speech to Republican donors is sparking questions about whether it is appropriate for the nonpartisan watchdog to attend partisan events.

Meyer — who is responsible for investigating fraud, waste, abuse and corruption inside the executive branch of state government — spoke at a Clinton County Republican Party “Century Club” dinner on Jan. 9. The standard ticket price was $100 per person.

Part of his speech, given in the county where Meyer lives, was about integrity, which rankled Democrats.

“Mr. Meyer’s actions demonstrate an utter disregard of his position as a nonpartisan officer, and while speaking out about integrity, he showed a complete lack of integrity for his position and the office of the inspector general,” state House Minority Leader Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, said in a statement.

He said raising money for a political party is the “most partisan” of activities. Budish called for Republican Gov. John Kasich — who named Meyer to the job just over a year ago — to “respond vigorously and unequivocally” concerning Meyer’s actions.

A spokeswoman declined to elaborate yesterday on what Budish is seeking. A Kasich spokesman also declined to comment.

Meyer’s speech was covered by the Wilmington News Journal, which published a story on Jan. 10 and a photo in which Meyer is seen with state Supreme Court candidate Sharon Kennedy, a Republican. The article said about 125 people attended.

In recent days, Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern took to Twitter to criticize Meyer’s appearance, calling it “unbelievable.” Redfern also has questioned Meyer for producing few investigations of note during his first year in office.

Meyer, a registered Republican who previously was chief investigator in the state auditor’s special-investigations unit, was tapped by Kasich to replace Thomas P. Charles, whom the incoming governor appointed to lead the state Department of Public Safety. Through a spokesman, Charles declined to comment yesterday on Meyer’s decision to attend the GOP dinner.

 

Will Romney Release His Tax Returns Before Ohio Primary, Or Will He Join Kasich In Hiding His Income From Voters?

Quarter-billionaire Romney’s refusal to release his returns is an affront to presidential transparency, Ohio tradition

Chairman Redfern calls on Romney to Fully Disclose Income Before Ohio’s March 6 Primary

COLUMBUS – During this week’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Mitt Romney doubled down on his refusal to commit to releasing his tax returns like every other Republican presidential candidate has done. “Time will tell,” Romney ambiguously declared, adding, “I’ll keep that open.” It wasn’t his first refusal either – just a month earlier he told NBC News reporter Chuck Todd, “I don’t intend to release the tax returns. I don’t.” Really Mitt?

For decades, presidents from both political parties have made their tax returns public so that voters know where they obtain their income and what they pay back. During President Obama’s 2008 presidential run, he released eight years’ worth of tax returns, and he has already released his complete tax return for 2010. So why then, won’t Mitt Romney release his? What is he trying to hide?

Maybe it’s that, according to Romney himself, he pays only “closer to the 15 percent” tax rate. Why? Unlike the typical family, which pays a far higher tax rate, Romney’s income comes from – in Romney’s own words – “investments,” not “ordinary” income. Governor Romney became rich as a corporate buyout specialist at Bain Capital, putting profits over people and bankrupting companies, closing plants and outsourcing jobs so that he could line his own pockets.

And Romney’s commitment to secrecy and refusal to release his tax returns breaks more than just a presidential tradition of transparency – it breaks a long-held Ohio tradition, too. With the exception of Governor Kasich and Ken Blackwell, Ohio gubernatorial candidates from both parties have released their tax returns for decades.

“Mitt Romney doesn’t want middle-class Ohioans to see his tax returns because then they will know for sure that he pays a much lower tax rate than they do,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. “If quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney is unfairly gaming the tax system in his favor, Ohioans have the right to know about it before our March primary. But even though leaders in both parties are pressuring Mitt Romney to follow a longtime precedent of presidential candidates in releasing his tax returns, we still haven’t gotten a straight answer from him.”

Redfern continued, “How much money did he make, what effective tax rate does he pay, and why is he withholding this information? It’s time for Mitt Romney to reject the failed Governor-Kasich-model of ‘transparency,’ come clean with hardworking Ohioans and hold himself to the same standard that his father and every Republican and Democratic presidential nominee have set for decades.”

BACKGROUND

Romney would join Governor John Kasich in breaking the Ohio tradition of releasing complete tax returns before key elections. As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, “Kasich is only the second candidate in the past seven gubernatorial campaigns to refuse to release his tax returns. In 2006, Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell declined to make his public.” [Columbus, Dispatch, 6/14/10]

Romney: “In Regards To Income Taxes, That’s Not Something That’s Required By The Law” So “I’m Not Planning On Releasing My Income Taxes Anytime Soon.” In an interview with KWQC’s Joe St. George, Romney was asked, “Let’s talk about the issue of transparency. You said you’re not going to release some donor information, your tax returns. How can Iowan voters trust someone who is not going to be that transparent?” Romney responded, “Well we have a series of laws that describe the kind of disclosure that’s appropriate and required for candidates running for office. We follow all of those disclosure requirements. And in regards to income taxes, that’s not something that’s required by the law. I’m not planning on releasing my income taxes anytime soon. But, you know we will wait and see what happens – never say never.” St. George then asked, “So you’re open to the possibility of opening them up?” Romney responded, “It’s always a possibility but I’m not planning on it at this point but we’ll see what happens down the road.” [KWQC interview with Romney, 12/28/11]

George Romney Was Believed To Be The First Presidential Candidate To Make His Income Tax Returns Public. “Many presidential candidates in the past have disclosed their net assets, stock holdings and other financial data which might relate to the public trust. But [George] Romney was believed the first to make his income tax returns public – including his annual wages, dividends, interest, capital gains and other compensation.” [St. Joseph Gazette, 11/27/67]

Romney Likely Pays A 15% Tax Rate On The “Carried Interest” From His Bain Investments. “Much information about Mr. Romney’s wealth is not known publicly. Federal law does not obligate him to disclose the precise details of his investments. He has declined to release his tax returns, and his campaign last week refused to say what tax rate he paid on his Bain earnings. But since Mr. Romney’s payouts from Bain have come partly from the firm’s share of profits on its customers’ investments, that income probably qualifies for the 15 percent tax rate reserved for capital gains, rather than the 35 percent that wealthy taxpayers pay on ordinary income. The Internal Revenue Service allows investment managers to pay the lower rate on the share of profits, known in the industry as ‘carried interest,’ that they receive for running funds for investors.” [New York Times,12/18/11]

RELEASING TAX RETURNS HAS BEEN A STANDARD PRACTICE FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES SINCE 1976

The Weekly Standard: “Releasing Tax Information Has Been Customary Since 1976.” “He said on Meet the Press last week that presidential candidates are required by law to release their income tax returns. In fact, no such law exists. Releasing tax information has been customary since 1976.” [The Weekly Standard, 5/3/04]

Damage Control: Mandel Releases Politically Motivated “Top Bottom Review” Overflowing With Misleading Previously Debunked Claims

Desperate Attempt To Change Subject Comes On Heels Of New Report Confirming Absentee Treasurer Spent First Year “Focused On Politics”

9 Days Ago The Ohio Democratic Party Filed A Public Records Request For Josh Mandel’s Daily Schedule As Treasurer, Mandel Has Not Responded

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Ohio’s ethically challenged Treasurer Josh Mandel has entered full damage control mode with his release of a politically motivated “Top Bottom Review” that’s overflowing with misleading and previously debunked claims. The report comes on the heels of an Associated Press story that confirms Josh Mandel has “focused on politics” during his first year in office, and not his job as Treasurer.

How does Josh Mandel attempt to prove he’s not “focused on politics?”

By Taking Credit For Something He Didn’t Do.

From Josh: “STAR Ohio, the $4 billion investment pool that the Treasurer administers on behalf of local governments and school districts, received the highest rating possible (AAAm)”

A simple look at Mandel’s own website shows that STAR Ohio’s had an AAA rating for more than 15 years. Politifact examined Mandel’s involvement w/ the credit rating and found that “Star Ohio did not improve under Mandel, as a reasonable person might assume…”

By Attacking Public Workers With Error-Riddled Information While Shielding His Political Appointees And Lying About The Information

From Josh: “launched the Treasurer’s Transparency Project to allow taxpayers to follow their tax dollars through a fully searchable database of government employee salaries – for the first time in Ohio government history.”

In what can only be described as a blatant political stunt intended to deceive voters into thinking his office was “transparent, accessible and accountable,” (when in fact he’s anything but) Mandel launched a website last year listing salaries of public employees (while leaving off his own political appointees).

As if hiding the salaries of his own political appointees and lying about the information being publicly available for the first time wasn’t enough, the Associated Press later reported that Mandel’s site was “riddled with errors and omissions”

By Falsely Claiming Tax Dollars Aren’t Being Spent On Promotional Materials

From Josh: “discontinued the purchase or use of promotional giveaway items with the Treasurer’s name engraved or printed on them, and reduced or eliminated spending on promotional materials and advertising expenses.”

Then what about when Josh Mandel spent Ohio tax dollars to personally congratulate every college graduate at Ohio State by sending them a letter that had Mandel’s name on it three times. The letter had nothing to do with the Treasurer’s office, and Josh was the only statewide elected official to do this.

Or how about on June 6th when an FEC complaint was filed against Mandel’s campaign for using state resources. Caught red-handed Josh Mandel repeatedly refused to respond to the complaint. It got so bad that media outlets literally began listing other media outlets that he refused to speak to. Weeks later in a stunning admission of guilt, Mandel removed the language in question from his website.

Of course, Mandel’s politically motivated “transparency site” that ripped off information from a right-wing think-thank also cost the taxpayers money.

Keep up the good work?

“Josh Mandel spent a year ignoring his job as Treasurer to raise money for a Senate run and releasing a politically motivated “review” of his office that’s overflowing with misleading and previously debunked claims about his time as Treasurer is nothing more than desperate attempt to change the subject from how little Josh Mandel cares about his job,” said Ohio Democratic Party press secretary Justin Barasky. “The fact is Ohioans deserve a Treasurer who actually does his job instead of focusing all his energy on getting a new one and Josh Mandel needs to follow the law and comply with the public records request for his schedule.”

BACKGROUND

Mandel Touted STAR Ohio Rating Even Though It Was The Same Rating The Fund Had Received For The Previous 16 Years. In October 2011, Politifact reportedThe STAR Ohio fund did, in fact, receive the highest rating possible, as Mandel’s email claimed. But the rating already had been in place for 16 years. It did not improve under Mandel, as a reasonable person might assume from his email. And while he gets some credit for maintaining the rating, his email overstated the case.” [Politifact, 10/27/11]

Mandel’s Public Employee Salary Search Engine “Riddled With Errors.” In October 2011, the Associated Press reported “Visitors to the Ohio treasurer’s new search engine for public worker salaries have complained the site is riddled with errors and omissions, leading the office to repair existing data and change the way it presents wage information. Some constituents accuse Republican Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel, in records obtained by The Associated Press, of using the search tool to fuel antipathy toward government workers ahead of a Nov. 8 vote on Ohio’s divisive new collective bargaining law.” [Associated Press, 10/29/11]

Mandel Political Operatives Could Not Be Found In Public Employee Salary Database. In September 2011, the Associated Press reported, “However, information on government employees as political control shifts, including two of Mandel’s own political operatives, can be spotty. Figures for Scott and Joel Riter were among about 70 treasury employees whose salary data at first wasn’t listed on the site. Both worked on Mandel’s 2010 Republican campaign for treasurer, then were hired at his state office.” [Associated Press, 9/1/11]

Josh Mandel Spent Public Money To Promote Himself With Ohio State University Graduates In 2011. In May 2011, the Plain Dealer reported “Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a likely Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who sharply criticized his previous political opponent for spending taxpayer money to pump up his name recognition, is spending public dollars to personally congratulate college graduates across the state. The commendations, on multicolored stationery bearing the official seal of the treasurer’s office, were sent this month in envelopes stamped with Mandel’s name to about 1,700 Ohio State University students who graduated in the winter quarter. Mandel’s name is in three places on the single sheet.  While the cost of the mailing is relatively low for now — each commendation cost 89 cents, including postage, for a total of about $1,513…” [Plain Dealer, Accessed 5/31/11]

FEC Complain Filed Against Mandel For Illegally Using State Resources For Campaign Use.  In June 2011, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reportedThe Mandel web posts were first written for his official state website, and they used state resources: the site itself, and the time and effort spent writing, posting and web hosting. That means Mandel’s political campaign is improperly mooching off the citizens of Ohio, the Democrats charge.  The same goes for Mandel’s political e-mail, the Democratic party says. Mandel’s Senate campaign has been sending via email these very same treasurer’s office updates. They go to potential supporters, donors or anyone else who signs up to be on the campaign email list. That blurs a line between official and political activity, a line that under federal law cannot be crossed, says the state Democratic Party.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/6/11]

Three Days After FEC Complaint Filed, Media Outlets Begin Listing Other Media Outlets Mandel Hasn’t Responded To. In June 2011 after a FEC complaint was filed against Mandel’s campaign three days earlier, the Cleveland Jewish News reported “Mandel did not return calls seeking comment, said the Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, and WCPN, among other media outlets.” [Cleveland Jewish News, 6/9/11]

Northeast Ohio Company Scouts Vets for its Workforce

WKSU

Laura Fong

A Northeast Ohio company has 45 job openings they want to find local veterans to fill.

GrafTech is working with the Cleveland manufacturing advocacy group MAGNET to recruit veterans to work at its facilities in Parma and Lakewood.  It makes components for electronic equipment.

Read More…

G.O.P in Congress Gets Blame for Gridlock

The New York Times

Marjorie Connelly

The public is not assigning blame equally between President Obama and Republicans in Congress for the partisan gridlock over key legislation.

In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent say Mr. Obama is attempting to work with Congressional Republicans to try to accomplish something; 27 percent say Republicans in Congress are making the same effort to work things out with the president.
Read More…

Mandel, Multitasking

National Journal

“During his first year” as treas., Josh Mandel (R) “has been a man between two worlds, balancing duties of his first statewide office with a fledgling” SEN campaign.

Mandel “has aggressively worked the fundraising and speaking circuit these past months… At the same time, his weekly calendars” as treas. “are almost devoid of appointments outside of staff meetings and speaking engagements. And he’s yet to hold a single news conference to discuss the work he’s doing for Ohioans.”

Read More…

Letter to the Editor: Josh Mandel’s Flash and Dash

The Plain Dealer

Tammy Rosboril, Auburn Township

Joe Frolik is spot-on in his observation that Josh Mandel “will do whatever it takes to win” (Opinion, Tuesday).  One need only peek beneath Mandel’s surface-slick persona to recognize a calculating career politician more interested in collecting titles than in serving the people who elected him.

Read More…

Democratic Party chief Chris Redfern calls for Inspector General Randall Meyer to step down

1/17/12
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Aaron Marshall

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Democratic Party Chief Chris Redfern is calling for Inspector General Randall Meyer to step down amid reports that Meyer headlined a Republican fundraiser over the weekend.

Meyer, through a spokesman, said he’s not resigning, but declined to comment.

In an interview with The Plain Dealer, Redfern called for Meyer’s head for appearing as the featured speaker at a Clinton County Republican fundraiser last week, saying he has compromised the integrity of the independent office.

“The guy’s got to go,” Redfern said.

Also raising questions about Meyer’s appearance was House Minority Leader Armond Budish, a Beachwood Democrat, who called it “outrageous” for Meyer to be involved in raising money on behalf of Republicans.

Created in 1990, the Ohio Inspector General’s office is an independent, nonpartisan watchdog who investigates allegations of wrongdoing in offices controlled by the governor. A former auditor under Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor when she was state auditor, Meyer was appointed by Republican Gov. John Kasich in January 2011.

In the speech Meyer gave to about 125 Republicans at the fundraising dinner in Wilmington, Ohio, where Meyer lives, he talked about the importance of doing his job without regard to politics.

“It is so important that the inspector general not be partisan, and be seen as someone who is blind to politics,” Meyer told the audience of GOP faithful.

He then noted that his role at the dinner was “not to talk about politics, but to talk about government.”

An article about Meyer’s speech appeared in the Wilmington News Journal along with a photo of Meyer with Sharon Kennedy, a Republican who is running for the Ohio Supreme Court against the lone Democratic Justice, Yvette McGee Brown.

Carl Enslen, a deputy for Meyer, said that the inspector general would not step down and would not comment or answer questions about his appearance in Wilmington. In an email, Enslen suggested that Meyer would also be happy to appear at a Democratic fundraiser.

Catherine Turcer, legislative director with Ohio Citizen Action, a citizen watchdog group, said Meyer’s appearance the fundraiser was a bad idea.

“The problem is we need an inspector general who is able to keep an eye on all the people in government and to not get too close or cozy with any individuals or political parties,” she said. “It’s a real fine line. He should be out in the public talking to people, but nothing so closely associated with a party as headlining a fundraiser.”

Rob Nichols, a Kasich spokesman, declined to comment on Meyer’s appearance at the dinner or to say whether Kasich thought Meyer’s appearance was appropriate.

Plain Dealer Politics Writer Henry J. Gomez contributed to this story.

Fire Department to Get Grant for Heart Monitors

Stow Sentry

The Stow Fire Department has received a federal grant for $128,439 for operations and safety, according to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s Office.

The money was awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grants program.

“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day across Ohio,” Brown said. “These funds ensure that firefighters in Summit County have the resources they need to perform their jobs safely.”

Read More…

Paid for and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party, not authorized by any federal candidate or campaign committee. David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton St, Columbus, Ohio 43215.