Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Friday, August 4

Atty Gen: Dann (D) Offers Some Thoughts on Campaign

Russell Hughlock at Buckeye State Blog has a thoughtful post today on the campaign for attorney general of State Sen. Marc Dann (D-Youngstown), and it reminded me that I have been meaning to post something based on some notes I have from talking to Dann about his race right after his press conference on Wednesday.

For one thing, Dann said that he and Secretary of State candidate Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) will be making a joint announcement in the next week or two about how the two of them, once installed in their respective state offices, would work together to protect the integrity of the 2008 elections. This is a brilliant idea. Ohio voters are very concerned about the fairness of the election process, so it is perfectly logical and compelling for the two Democrats seeking to be the state's chief law enforcement officer and chief supervisor of elections to campaign together on this issue.

As to his own race, Dann remarked that he had something of an epiphany when he realized that "the weakness of Betty Montgomery (R) is my strength." What he means is that while Dann has been doing everything he could do as a private person to pursue corruption in Ohio government, Montgomery has had all the powers of her elected offices and has done nothing. Montgomery "would have been the hero" if she had pursued the Tom Noe/Coingate mess at the Bureau of Workers Compensation, but instead she received a troublesome audit in 2004 and "sat on it until the story broke in the Toledo Blade." If Montgomery "is such a great prosecutor, how did she miss that?" Dann, on the other hand, has "been the person doing her job for her, in the roundabout way available to a private citizen," i.e., Freedom of Information Requests and lawsuits. (This sounds a lot like what Russell wrote in his post today.) Dann acknowledged that "people like Betty," but he said that he doesn't need to portray her as corrupt to win, just "show that she turned her head the other way."

Dann agreed that the Democratic legislative caucuses have been doing more things like filing briefs lately (such as filing a brief in a new school funding case), and he said there are good reasons for this. Ohio doesn't recognize legislative history in court ("very frustrating," he said, and I can imagine), so an amicus brief is a way for legislators to "get at what the legislature meant" in passing laws that are in dispute. Also, "Democrats will be successful in 2006," Dann said, "because we're doing things other than just making speeches on the floor of the General Assembly," which don't tend to get very much attention. He also noted that "people got more interested in state government" when they realized that they were "getting robbed blind."

As to the Ohio Democratic Party in general, Dann commented that two things are very different this year. First, there is a great deal more cooperation going on, and second, Democrats are now the party of "fiscal conservatism" because the Republicans have been so wasteful. He said that there are at least two additional financial scandals that may be about to break. One has to do with $17 million in no-bid computer contracts at the BWC (the AP is looking into this, he said), and the other has to do with pharmacy benefit intermediaries throughout the state, who negotiate rebates from drug companies on top of the fees they receive from the state for processing the benefits, all contracted on a no-bid basis. As another example of waste Dann mentioned that the Democratic Senators brought forward an amendment to legislation that would add interest to money owed for child support, and the Department of Jobs and Family Services reported that the cost of reprogramming their computers to accommodate the interest would be $20 million. Scowling, Dann said "I know a guy on my block who could do it for free!" Nevertheless, a no-bid contract "has the government all tied up."

These scandals and waste all mean money lost to the state, but the Republicans "raise campaign cash from the people who are profiting." Dann is "thinking that 2% [of the state budget] is not an unreasonable estimate of the overspending that is going on," which "amounts to a million dollars every two years" [I'm not totally sure I heard that right.] If that overspending could be eliminated, he said, "the savings would go half way to curing the school funding deficit."

Finally, I asked Dann about debates with Montgomery, and he said that the City Club of Cleveland would be hosting one. He also said that radio hosts Lanigan and Malone had offered to host a debate, and Dann has accepted, saying he has a "great face for radio."

As Anastasia points out, I did not hear Dann right. It's a billion dollars every two years that the Republicans have caused the State of Ohio to overspend, not a million dollars.


At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeff. Anastasia here. Very good report and very accurate as I can attest, being the other person there. However, there's a crucial little typo at the end you should fix- that was a BILLION dollars every two years lost to taxpayers due to corruption, not a million. Republicans don't steal that small! They don't like living "poycheck to paycheck" like us peons.


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