Will Brewing Corruption Scandals in Ohio Have an Impact on November's Election?
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The Plain Dealer noted that Kasich's ally Rebecca Heimlich won that race after another candidate, Jean Raga, also dropped out. “Raga is married to former State Rep. Tom Raga, who after the election was appointed executive director of the Dayton Power & Light Foundation,” the paper noted.
As for who's running the party now, well, the man in charge of day-to-day operations will be Matthew J. Borges, who in 2004 pleaded guilty to improper use of a public office and paid a fine (his record was later expunged despite the guilty plea).
It's All About the Money
Why does control of the party matter so much to Kasich? Jennifer Brunner, former Ohio Secretary of State (a Democrat) told AlterNet that one important reason is that effective messaging matters when it comes to making policy while in office. “One of the tools you use is your state party to beat the drum on the issues you care about,” she said.
There's also just the bad blood between Kasich and Husted and DeWine. Husted is known as a bit of an opportunist; during the battle over S.B. 5, the anti-union legislation, Brunner noted that Husted promised his employees at the Secretary of State's office, organized with the Communication Workers of America, that they'd still be allowed to collectively bargain, undermining Kasich's top policy fight.
But what it really comes down to, as in so many cases, is money.
According to the blog Plunderbund, the Ohio Republican Party spent $18 million in the two years leading up to the 2010 elections (when they swept the state in a dramatic reversal of Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008). And more than three times as much of that money was spent on Husted's campaign for Secretary of State than on Kasich's run for governor—nominally the top of the ticket. Attorney General Mike DeWine, Kevin DeWine's cousin, was second with $1.5 million, almost twice as much as Kasich.
Plunderbund explained, “The party pays for a lot of things on a candidate’s behalf. For Kasich, they paid for yard signs, mailings and made direct contributions to his campaign. For Husted, in addition to those categories, the party funded his staff payroll, health insurance, rent and utilities, legal expenses, surveys and TV advertising.” The party also donated $859,000 directly to Husted's campaign—and only $225,000 to Kasich.
Political parties often function as a back-door way around campaign finance limits. Federal candidates are limited to $5,000 from one person—the limit that triggered the investigation into contributions from employees at Suarez Corporation Industries to Jim Renacci and Josh Mandel. A handful of workers who make only a modest salary at Suarez, along with their spouses, had mysteriously maxed out their contributions to Renacci and Mandel. (Mandel has returned the money.) The question is whether those employees really gave such large sums of money out of their own pockets, or whether perhaps their employers were funneling money through them.
“The courts have said that when you exchange money directly with a candidate or party or PAC, that’s when there’s the potential for either real corruption or the appearance of it,” Bob Biersack, senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Dayton Daily News. “I’m giving you something and I expect something in return. That’s the legal premise on which contribution limits are permissible.”
According to the Dayton Daily News, statewide candidates can receive up to $23,087.40 from any one individual. (Local candidates, strangely, can receive unlimited amounts from individuals.) And rules allow political parties or other groups to spend unlimited funds on “in-kind” donations like those the Ohio Republican Party paid for for Kasich and Husted.