Saturday, October 28, 2006


Blackwell: Small type operator on exit surveys

Kenny Blackwell

Kenny just can't resist playing his games:
ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox News, NBC and The Associated Press sued Monday, arguing that Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s latest directive, which stated that loitering and delaying voters were prohibited, was confusing. Later, and in smaller type, Mr. Blackwell’s order noted that the polling practice was legal.

The judge, Michael H. Watson of Federal District Court, ordered the new rules last month when he struck down Mr. Blackwell’s 2004 order against polling voters within 100 feet of a voting place.

The news outlets had asked Judge Watson to spell out the rules for county election boards and to force Mr. Blackwell to post them so members of the news media could interview voters leaving polling places on Nov. 7.

In his decision Friday, Judge Watson needled Mr. Blackwell’s office for noting the judge’s earlier decree in smaller type but said the posting was still legal.
Here's what they were complaining about:

Picture 2

Friday, October 27, 2006


Jobs picture a la Policy Matters Ohio

From the good folks at PMO, a group that does a great job of staying on top of this stuff:
Employment in Ohio continues to trend slightly downward, according to seasonally adjusted payroll numbers for nonfarm wage and salary jobs released Oct. 24 by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS). The number of jobs in Ohio has declined by 10,000 since its recent peak in May.

Since June of 2005, when an overhaul of state taxes was signed into law with the intent of creating jobs, employment in Ohio has grown by 28,600 jobs, or a rate of 0.5 percent. During the same period, the nation added 2.2 million jobs, for a growth rate of 1.7 percent.

. . .

Ohio employment remains 137,000 jobs, or 2.5 percent, below the job base of March 2001, when the last recession officially started. Ohio is one of just eight states that have lost jobs since the recession began.


More polling good news

We are told the new Rasmussen poll shows Brown with a double-digit lead and, more importantly, has solidly crossed the 50% line. Rasmussen also reportedly continues to show Strickland with a big double digit lead, too.


Judge hints at final ruling in ID case

From Gongwers (sub req'd):
Judge Marbley rejected an argument from Assistant Attorney General Richard Coglianese that enjoining the statute, and returning to previous rules, would create confusion and spark additional litigation over ballots already cast under the new regulations.

“If this statute is declared unconstitutional, we go back to the system we had before. It was not constitutionally infirm, and had not caused problems,” the judge said. “I’m not gong to be burdened by whether … (this) will be burdensome for some bureaucracy.”
Credit goes to attorneys Subodh Chandra and Caroline Gentry who presented the arguments before Marbley:
“Does the address need to be current on the water bill? What is a government document? Well, this is another issue where you have different interpretations occurring across the state,” Mr. Chandra said. “Different counties have different interpretations.”

He said at least one absentee ballot applicant – an attorney – entered the wrong set of numbers from his driver’s license.

“This is not the best thought out statutory scheme in the world,” said Mr. Chandra.


Rot gets worse in Ohio air pollution rules

Your Republican Ohio EPA. From Gongwers (sub. req'd):
“When you got a rotten law, it takes a bit of effort to come up with a set of regulations that are even worse, but they did,” attorney David Altman said in an interview Thursday, referring to draft rules the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency proposed in response to a major revision of the state’s air pollution law (SB 265 ).

Mr. Altman submitted written comment on the rules earlier this week on behalf of the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, Sierra Club, Buckeye Environmental Network, Environmental Community Organization, and Ohio Citizen Action.

The agency will consider public comments, and may further revise the rules, before submitting them to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), OEPA spokeswoman Linda Fee Oros said. The agency hopes to finalize the rules by the end of the year. Thereafter, the rules may be appealed in the Environ-mental Review Appeals Commission, she added.

Any business emitting an air contaminant previously had to obtain a permit but, among other changes, the new regulations require permits only for companies releasing a chemical named on a list of toxic compounds.

“So now the question is, isn’t the OEPA director going to make this all better by putting thousands of chemi-cals on the list?” Mr. Altman said about the new law requiring the agency to list regulated chemicals. The director failed to include many chemicals “well-known to be capable of causing adverse health effects.”

He went on to criticize the rationale the agency offered for narrowing the originally proposed list from 639 to 303 compounds. Among other reasons, the agency dropped chemicals that were no longer being produced in Ohio.

“What logic is there in taking the 300 some chemicals off the list because they’re not currently being used in Ohio?” he asked. Looking at the situation from the perspective of a polluter, he added, “I would move those chemicals into Ohio the minute those regs went into effect.”

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Ssssssssspt . . . and the balloon finally collapse

From Stephen Koff at the PD's Openers:
Aaron McLear, RNC spokesman, says the party will continue its on-the-ground efforts and staff support for Ohio Republicans, and says he understands DeWine has about $2.8 million available for his own commercials.

But no more money for RNC ads as of Tuesday. The party canceled its air time reservations.
Okay, it's officially time to focus on the SoS and Auditor races.


Desperation leads to . . . deperate arguments

A bad day for the GOP media guys in southwest Ohio. From the TPM headquarters:




It's important not to get too giddy over this stuff, but it's hard not to when Survey USA says its game, set and match for the governor and senate races, and minimum wage (poll conducted 10-23-10/25):
Democrat Take-Away in Ohio Governor: In an election for Governor of Ohio today, 10/26/06, Democrat Ted Strickland wins decisively over Republican Ken Blackwell, according to an exclusive SurveyUSA poll of 563 likely Ohio voters conducted for WKYC-TV Cleveland, WCPO-TV Cincinnati and WYTV-TV Youngstown. Strickland led by 28 in an identical SurveyUSA tracking poll 10/12/06. Today leads by 30.

Democrat Take-Away Now Certain in Ohio U.S. Senate: In an election for United States Senator from Ohio today, 10/26/06, Democrat challenger Sherrod Brown unseats incumbent Republican Mike DeWine, 57% to 37%, according to an exclusive SurveyUSA poll conducted for WKYC-TV Cleveland, WCPO-TV Cincinnati and WYTV-TV Youngstown. Brown led by 14 in an identical SurveyUSA tracking poll on 10/12/06. Today, Brown leads by 20. Brown's lead among males is up from 1 point on 10/12/06 to 13 points today; up from 12 points among white voters to 18 points today. In Western Ohio, DeWine led by 18 2 weeks ago, trails by 10 today, a 28-point swing to the Democrat.

Issue 2 Passes: Issue 2 passes in a referendum today, 49% Yes to 16% No. Though 35% of voters are not yet Certain how they will vote on 2, late deciders are splitting evenly. Issue 2 had led by 32 points on 10/12/06, today leads by 33 points. The measure is supported 3:1 by whites and 6:1 by blacks.
And remember, as we always like to say, follow the trend, not the numbers.


Bob Bennett's Halloween hauntings

From a reader in Grandview:



Kilroy, Shamansky get SNP endorsement

The mini-empire of Max Brown's Suburban News Publications (e.g., The Booster, The Other Paper, Columbus Monthly, Columbus CEO) is not big enough to think of itself as a king-maker the way the Wolfe family does. Still, the SNP's total circulation is enormous and these publications probably reach more households in central Ohio than the Dispatch. Moreover, the SNP's community newspapers have found a successful formula of local schools, sports and community activities that put it in touch with middle class sensibilities, and The Other Paper has (so far) outlasted its competition to serve the enormous 16-30 year old culture/entertainment/politics/gossip market.

With this in mind, it is significant but not entirely surprising (the SNP endorsed Kerry in 2004) that the SNP has stiffed Tiberi and Pryce and thrown its support behind Mary Jo Kilroy and Bob Shamansky:
[T]his election should not be about which candidates can scavenge the most pork for Central Ohio. It should be about the role of Congress in setting the national agenda and providing checks and balances on the White House. If you believe the nation will be best served by returning to Congress a majority of Republicans who will compliantly do the bidding of the Bush administration, then it makes sense to re-elect Pryce and Tiberi. Both have obediently supported Bush at every turn. And the President values such loyal service -- witness his recent, big-bucks campaign fundraising trip to New Albany on behalf of Pryce.

If you think the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration has our nation on the right track in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Iran, in North Korea, in Darfur and the world's other trouble spots, then by all means vote to send Pryce and Tiberi back to Washington. If you think Bush's trillion-dollar deficits and gargantuan appropriations bills are making our economy stronger, vote for Pryce and Tiberi. You'll get two more years of the same.

If, on the other hand, you believe that it's time for a change -- time for a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to rein in the Bush administration's excesses and check its wrong-headed policies -- then you should join Suburban News Publications in supporting challengers Mary Jo Kilroy in the 15th District and Bob Shamansky in the 12th District.

. . .

Because of the crucial issues facing this country today, at home and around the world, the choices in these two races couldn't be more clear:

A vote for Pryce or Tiberi is a vote for George W. Bush and the status quo.

A vote for Kilroy or Shamansky is a vote for change.

The editors also took a swing at folks on Third Street:
What was glaringly absent from the Dispatch endorsement was discussion of the critical national and international issues facing the nation, and the roles Pryce and Tiberi have played in confronting - or, more accurately, not confronting - those issues and the policies of President George W. Bush. Incredibly, the lengthy editorial never even mentioned the President's name. Boiled down to basics, the Dispatch seemed to be saying: "To hell with the country; bring us more pork!"


Bennett facilitates coming train wreck

How convenient. Despite the assurances from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor that ballot scanning could begin early, the GOP is determined to keep that from happening:
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason is ready to tell elections officials they can defy Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and scan thousands of absentee ballots days before Election Day, ensuring that results are ready on Election Night.

If only elections officials would ask.

But the county elections board does not plan to ask for the opinion. Officials had planned to seek it but changed their minds Wednesday. They will try to scan more than 100,000 ballots in 20 hours on Election Day, relying on their scanners to work faster than they have in the past.

"We have to lock down the election," board Chairman Bob Bennett said in an interview. "We can't be involved in a legal fight. The secretary of state says it's illegal. . . . I don't want to take the risk."
Right. That would be the same Bob Bennett who is also chair of the Ohio GOP who is using Kenny Blackwell as his source for guidance on this matter.
Mason said scanning ballots into a computer does not equate to counting them. He said the counting would occur Election Day, when election workers hit a tabulation button to spit out the results.

"It seems that there's a common-sense approach to this," said Mason. "I would say they should start early, but don't total them until the polls close.



Jeez. We realize an apologize has been made, but why does this guy still have his job after giving this bumbling explanation?
He said after Sunday's game, he complained to John Elffers, president of the Hudson Hawks Youth Football Association, who sent him a letter apologizing for the fans' actions.

Elffers, however, said the first complaint he heard came Monday when Saffold called him and said parents of Shaker players were offended. Elffers said he doubted supporters meant to be offensive.

"Their actions, albeit unwise, foolish and insensitive, were meant to be totally supportive and not intended to insult or offend anyone in any way," Elffers wrote in his letter to Saffold.
"Supporters" - presumably adults since this is a football league of ten-year olds - of the HHYFA wore Afro wigs, painted their faces, and yelled "nigger" throughout the game.

But, hey, apparently those ultra-sensitive types in Shaker Heights just don't get this part of a proud pee-wee football tradition:
Elffers said the Hudson teams have played in the league for 15 years and have not received previous complaints about the costumes, even against other teams with black players.


Voter ID hearing today

If this isn't on your "to watch" list for today, it should be. From the good folks at BSB.

And note, the snippets of court documents that BSB provide show that this is as much about having a consistent set of rules, training and enforcement since it seems like we are stuck with the concept of having to show some ID, despite the total lack of problems with voter fraud.

In other words, these cases are a byproduct of negligence on the part of Ohio's chief elections officer.

Kenny Blackwell


PD: Insiders looted workers, BWC system

Again, the details of the MCO scandal is just starting to surface and Bob Paynter's powerful story in the Plain Dealer is going to make a lot of people squirm.

It's a tawdry tale of revolving doors, lobbyists, and corporate manipulations. It should be noted that the whole MCO thing was a privatization scheme introduced under the guise of "improving" BWC. Case management had been done internally by BWC staff, but Voinovich & Co. couldn't resist doling out rewards, at the expense of injured workers. It just sort of sums up everything that's wrong in Ohio:
The Dublin-based company now known as VocWorks didn't even exist in July 1998, 16 months after Republicans used their lock on power in Columbus to privatize the management of medical claims for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

But just three years later, state records show, the firm had grown into the third-biggest provider of medical services to Ohio's injured workers under the managed-care initiative. Bigger than University Hospitals. Bigger than the MetroHealth System. Bigger than the Cleveland Clinic.

VocWorks owed virtually all of that explosive growth to referrals from its sister company, CareWorks of Ohio - the largest and the most politically connected of the private managed-care organizations (MCOs) that are paid millions of dollars in public money each year to oversee medical care for injured workers.

VocWorks has received more than $55 million in payments under Ohio's managed-care program, bureau records show.

At least 97 percent of that money came through CareWorks.

. . .

Managed care was initially billed as a way to cut workers' comp costs by placing oversight of injured worker claims in the hands of private enterprise. But the program has had the opposite effect, bureau records show.

Operating costs -- the bureau's budget, plus the money paid to the MCOs -- have risen at twice the pace of inflation since 1997, The Plain Dealer reported last month, even while the number of claims to be managed has plummeted. Medical costs per claim -- after inflation -- have more than doubled as well.

As a result, the bureau has spent roughly $1.6 billion more under managed care than it would have if costs per claim had been held to only inflationary increases, according to the newspaper's analysis.

. . .

The MCOs get bonus money from the state based on how quickly they close injured worker cases, Anderson said, not necessarily on whether the workers get services they need most.

. . .

CareWorks -- headed by the longtime aide to a legendary Ohio politician and launched with the help of well-connected campaign contributors to both political parties -- had gotten $369 million. That's twice as much as its nearest competitor.

William Pfeiffer, the chairman and chief executive of CareWorks Holding -- the MCO's parent, held several top spots at the bureau while the managed-care initiative was being designed. Previously he was a top aide to former House Speaker Vern Riffe.

Court records show that Pfieffer had help in starting CareWorks from:

Paul Tipps, a former head of the Ohio Democratic Party, whose close ties to Riffe helped make him one of the premier lobbyists in Columbus.

Umberto Fedeli, an insurance broker, generous Republican contributor and former member -- appointed by then-Gov. George Voinovich -- of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

Ken Seminatore and Jack Burry, the former outside lawyer and CEO respectively of Blue Cross & Blue Shield (now Medical Mutual) of Ohio -- a giant Cleveland-based health insurer.

. . .

Last month, the Toledo Blade identified more than $610,000 in campaign contributions to statewide political candidates by executives and associates of the 26 MCOs still doing business in Ohio. More than $208,000 -- or roughly a third -- came from various CareWorks officials, the Blade reported.


Boehner's ambitions

This announcement yesterday is coming a bit late in the election cycle, but we think this is more about Big John's desire to replace Hastert than providing "help" in the last 12 days.

But is the message, "Hey, voters, why don't you appreciate all the great things the GOP has done for you?" the best Boehner can come up with?:
Republicans have secured key legislative victories on the economy, taxes, border security, and the war against terrorism this year, and the Majority Project’s goal is to make sure the American people understand what we’ve accomplished on their behalf.


Train wreck starts early

With absent voting surging far ahead of predictions (one union project recently reported that they assisted in 230,000 applications alone), what else would anyone expect from Kenny the Klown?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Phony group, phony advertising

As we've noted before, the Senior Coalition is a phony, astroturf organization created to facilitate pay-to-play in Washington. And, as we predicted, this pharma-funded group has indeed weighed in to provide political cover for the Deb Pryce.

The Senior Coalition did the deed for Deb by sending a mailer blaring:
What was the important information? As the complete mailer, below, shows, it is basically everyone should personally call up Pryce and thank her for Medicare Part D.

Thanks Senior Coalition! Mom has been asking who she can cuss out about Part D.


Post endorses Strickland, Wulsin

The Post has never been as partisan as the Enquirer, so the nod to Ted ("The better choice") and Victoria ("Time For Change") is not entirely surprising.

The Post editors, didn't really think it was time for a change everywhere. They also endorse DeWine and Chabot. P&G, Cinergy/Duke Power, Cincy Bell, Cintas, Convergys, etc., try to keep the media on a pretty short leash in that town.

But the Post's editorial makes a point of rubbing Kenny's nose in his own shitpile:
This is gutter politics, and Blackwell should know better than to traffic in such stuff. What goes around comes around, however: The Columbus Dispatch reported this week that Blackwell knowingly employed a convicted felon who, shortly after leaving the state payroll, was sent to prison for sexually abusing a girl over a seven-year period starting when she was just 7 years old.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


General Pryce

Rolling Stone:
With Tom DeLay in political exile, the race against Pryce – the GOP’s deputy whip and fourth-ranking member – represents the Democrats’ best chance to make Republicans pay for the party’s rampant corruption and unquestioning support of the president’s far-right agenda.

Pryce not only spearheaded Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security, she also benefited from at least ten fund-raisers hosted by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“More than any other seat in the nation, this race offers an opportunity to send George W. Bush a message,” says Kilroy, who has a track record of winning in the district. “Deborah Pryce is not just a foot soldier – she’s a general who has rubberstamped every bad idea to come out of the administration for the last six years.”


Mason-Dixon: Strickland and Brown with large leads

Polling done on behalf of McClatchy-MSNBC shows strong upward trend for both:
Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown led incumbent Republican Sen. Mike DeWine by 48-40 percent. Three weeks ago, Brown led by 45-43 percent.

Ohio is the one state in which Iraq isn't the top issue. Voters there rank the economy and jobs as their top concern, reflecting the retrenchment of the U.S. auto industry and its impact on Ohio assembly plants and parts suppliers. It also reflects years of losing manufacturing jobs.

Voters who say the economy is their top issue support Brown by 53-35 percent. Iraq is a close second, and Iraq voters support Brown by better than 3-1.

Breakout: Brown owes his lead in part to the fact that he's holding his base - drawing 84 percent of Democrats - while tapping into DeWine's by winning 18 percent of Republicans. He also benefits from a gender gap: He leads among women 53-36, while he and DeWine split the male vote.
The poll showed Strickland +20. Ffantastig!


Yes, he is Ohio's worst reporter

Another Niquettetine fit.


No magic left for GOP?

There continues to be very little difference in the vote estimate derived from all registered voters and the estimate among likely voters only. This suggests that at this point in the election cycle the Republicans do not have the distinct turnout advantage that they have enjoyed in the last three midterm elections.

. . .

The current 15-point Democratic lead among registered voters remains among the largest Democrat leads on any Gallup poll conducted since the Republicans won majority power in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.

. . .

But at this time, there does not appear to be a significant turnout advantage for the GOP. Gallup estimates that if the election were held today there would be little difference in the results among those who actually turned out to vote compared to the larger pool of all registered voters. (Of course, if all of the GOP's turnout effort is concentrated in the last 72 hours of the campaign, then its impact might not yet be visible in current polling.)

The margin among likely voters is only two points different than the margin among all registered voters. This is similar to the pattern found in the early October USA Today/Gallup poll, in which there was


Why won't that "textbook economy" cooperate?

Eh, Deb?

Latest state jobs report from ODJFS:
Ohio's nonfarm wage and salary employment decreased 2,500 over the month, from 5,457,000 in August, to 5,454,500 in September.
In fairness, ODJFS also reportered that the unemployment rate dropped from 5.7% in August to 5.3% in September, however even this is not evidence of an upswing:
"The decline in unemployment was due primarily to individuals leaving the labor force and returning to school in September," said ODJFS Director Barbara Riley.
Here are the jobs numbers by sector:
Service-providing industries, at 4,403,100, were down 4,800 from August. The largest decline occurred in government (-3,800). Decreases also occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities ( 3,400), other services (-1,700), educational and health services (-700), and financial activities ( 300). Leisure and hospitality advanced 2,700 over the month. Professional and business services rose 1,800, while information added 600 jobs. Goods-producing industries rose 2,300 to 1,051,400. Gains occurred in manufacturing (+1,600), construction (+600), and natural resources and mining (+100).
The goods-production sector is still down 3,600 for the last 12 months including a net drop of 6,100 manufacturing jobs. More to the point, compared to the start of the recession in Ohio (2001), a net of 192,700 manufacturing jobs have been lost or 19.3%.


Spineless liars

Larkin nails the GOP and its apologists:
On Sunday, an editorial in Blackwell's hometown newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, said of Blackwell, "He has attempted to falsely smear Strickland as a supporter of child sex. He has used surrogates to suggest that Strickland, married for 18 years, is gay. Such tactics are blots on Blackwell's character, and he owes the state of Ohio an apology. Strickland is an honorable man who has served the state with integrity."

In the very next paragraph, the Enquirer endorsed Blackwell for governor, becoming the first big-city daily newspaper not to endorse Strickland. Blackwell's race to the bottom has vindicated those many thoughtful Republicans who have avoided any association with his campaign. Republicans with common sense - and there are a lot of them - have known for years that Blackwell cares about only one person. And now they know that Blackwell couldn't care less if his sleazy campaign brings down the entire Republican ticket. [emphasis added]
Larkin goes on to compare this year's governors race to the 1986 desperate effort by Jim Rhodes to rescue his campaign that was losing badly to Dick Celeste, and reflect on the GOP's character then and now.
But unlike 1986, not a single prominent Republican has had the courage to speak out against Blackwell's desperate attempts to suggest that Strickland condones child molestation, or his subtle questioning of Strickland's sexual preferences.

Blackwell's tactics might well push the entire Republican ticket over the edge. And if that happens because others whose names appear on that GOP sample ballot cower in silence, they'll all deserve what they get.


Blackwell kept of felon/addict on payroll

As we have noted for several days, Kenny knew he had a staffing problem of his own at the time he and his handlers launched their attack against Strickland. A much worse staffing problem.

From Joe Hallett at the Dispatch:
As state treasurer, Blackwell hired a felon and kept him on the payroll after his office discovered the man had a long record of arrests. Under Blackwell, who was treasurer from March 1994 to January 1999, Michael A. Toomer received two pay increases, and left the treasurer's office in 2002, landing in prison for the next four years.

. . .

But when the treasurer's office sought clearance for Toomer to have access to the state of Ohio Computer Center, a second check turned up numerous arrests. On Jan. 26, 1998, the Ohio Department of Public Safety denied access to Toomer, alias Glenn K. Williams.

. . .

On Feb. 3, 1998, a week after learning about Toomer's criminal record, Beth Gilger, then the treasurer's director of human services, wrote on her office stationary that "we have enough to terminate" Toomer. At the time, and for the following six weeks, Toomer could have been fired without cause, because he wasn't yet a member of the state employees union.

Blackwell said he opted not to fire Toomer on the recommendation of Gilger and the treasurer's office legal counsel. Blackwell said Toomer was an admitted drug-addict who, after completing a Florida treatment program and passing treasurer's office drug tests, showed no signs of drug usage.

"He had met the drug screening, he was willing to undergo a pattern of drug screening tests and he had a local church community that vouched for his turning his life around," Blackwell said.

Although the second background check turned up numerous arrests, Blackwell said he saw no documentation showing that Toomer actually had been convicted.

In a check of Toomer's file at the treasurer's office, The Dispatch found two records indicating that Toomer's probation had been extended following his Jan. 14, 1993 arrest for possessing cocaine.

Here's the final kicker to the story that we could see coming from a mile away (and explains a lot about Kenny's recent attacks:
In May 2002, about three months after leaving the treasurer's office, Toomer was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a girl, beginning in September 1994 when she was 7 and continuing until 2001.

Blackwell said he did not know Toomer was a child molester until yesterday. If he had had any indication that Toomer was abusing a child while an employee of the treasurer's office, Blackwell said, "He would have been history."
Hopefully, by now, everyone should see the pattern. When the right launches an apeshit attack, it is usually to cover their own "indiscretions." The lesson? Have a good oppo-research operation, but stay on message.

Monday, October 23, 2006


BWC pantomimes DeWine, Voinovich probe

As we've noted before, keep your eye on the latest scandal at BWC. From the Drew Crew:
When the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation received an allegation in June that staff for two Republican officeholders tried to aid a politically connected firm that manages the care of injured workers, the bureau didn't investigative for three months.

On Sept. 12, a bureau fraud investigator made one phone call, and then closed the case, satisfied that the accusation was "unfounded." The bureau never contacted the elected officials or their staff, subpoenaed phone records, or requested any documents.

. . .

The claim, which focused on the offices of U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, was examined by the bureau's fraud task force because, if substantiated, it could have amounted to a violation of the bureau's regulations that govern its managed-care organizations.

. . .

An investigator, Kris Sharp, made one phone call on the case - on Sept. 12, four days after a Blade investigation showed the bureau's managed care program had been a source of campaign contributions for top state Republicans, and some Democrats.
Agent Sharp spoke with Steve Millard, COSE's executive director, who confirmed that a COSE employee "received an inquiry phone call from someone who stated they were affiliated with the senator's office regarding CareWorks."

Mr. Millard told the investigator he didn't know who took the call at COSE.

Contacted by The Blade, Mr. Millard said he did know which employee took the call but would not identify that person.
Maybe if we had left a message saying we were shopping for an MCO, we bet we could have gotten someone from Mikey's office to return our call back during the Social Security attempted robbery.


DSCC got serious

Good to know. Hope they keep it up.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee put $4.4 million into Ohio in September, using contributions, party transfers, independent expenditures and coordinated expenditures, according to PoliticalMoneyLine's number crunchers using Federal Election Commission filings.


Musical chairs: Place your bets

Grab some popcorn. This is fun fun fun spectator sports:
Should the GOP lose control of the statewide offices this fall, will that mean the end of Bob Bennett as state party chairman? How many statewide seats must the GOP retain for him to keep his job? Is there anyone in line to replace him?
- John, Columbus

Darrel Rowland: John, you must've been listening in to some of our office conversation. Robert T. Bennett is arguably the most effective Republican state chairman in Ohio history, and one of the top ones in the annals of American politics.

A lot of us thought he would step down after 2000 when he filled the only missing hole on his resume, carrying his state for the GOP presidential candidate. Then we thought so again two years ago after the 2002 GOP "three-peat sweep" of statewide offices and Bush's 2004 re-election, plus some health concerns. But he has a lot of powerful national Republicans who have wanted him to stay at the helm of a critically important state.

I doubt if the history books will treat him unkindly even if Dems win big this year. The next question: Will he stay on for 2008, when America will have a presidential race without an incumbent president or a vice president on the ballot for the first time since the 1950s? I know of no successor in sight, although surely many would want the job if Chairman Bob decides he's finally had enough.

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