Greene County “pay-to-play” politics may have compromised national security

by John Mitchell

Recently released documents indicate that the 2003 BRAC Initiative Agreement between Greene County Commissioners and the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) may have inappropriately facilitated the release of information sensitive to national security. In an August 19, 2003 email from a Greentree Group consultant to the Dayton Development Coalition CEO, a request was made by the Greentree consultant that a lobbyists with PMA, a defunct Washington lobbying firm, intervene with Headquarters Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to “determine the plans and status for making a decision on (a sensitive program that could be characterized as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)). A later email indicates the PMA lobbyist followed through on that request. The simple truth is that Greentree, the Dayton Development Coalition and PMA do not have the authority to get involved with plans, programs and budgets related to sensitive intelligence matters unless they are under contract with a federal government agency to do so. To add insult to injury, this was all done within the framework of noncompetitively awarded contracts funded by Greene County and other Ohio taxpayers.

Since November 2007 this reporter has been seeking documents related to the 2003 Base Re-alignment and Closure (BRAC) Initiative Agreement. In fact, just last month the Greene County Common Pleas Court dismissed our public records request suit against Greene County elected officials to force them to provide those documents. Strangely enough, the Greene County Prosecutor, a defendant himself as well as legal counsel for past and present Greene County Commissioners named as defendants in the suit, ignored the court’s ruling and released at least 26 binders packed with BRAC Initiative Agreement documents. This is the legal equivalent of ENRON being acquitted of securities fraud, but then settling with plaintiffs after the fact without an appeal. This is strange behavior indeed, but completely consistent with career politicians taken to the edge of the abyss with no other option than to delay accountability until after the next election, in the meantime hoping to wear down the whistleblower. Fortunately for the citizens, the damaging evidence was in the second binder reviewed and not the 26th.

It’s important to note this isn’t just a sweetheart deal between Greene County Commissioners and the Dayton Development Coalition. Federal legislators including Dave Hobson and Steve Austria were deeply entangled in the “pay-to-play” shenanigans in Greene County that ran through Columbus and on to Washington, D.C. Hobson and Austria both had representatives on the DDC Wright Patt 2010 Committee that helped steer well over $100,000 in contributions to their campaigns from Coalition employees and directors, Greentree associates, and lobbyists formerly with PMA, which has disintegrated since last November when they were raided by the FBI for allegations of violating campaign finance laws.

It’s bad enough that fraud, waste, abuse and corruption place in jeopardy the economic future of our children and grandchildren, but when career politicians put their personal interests above national security, enough is enough. Kevin DeWine, State Chairman for the Ohio Republican Party, recently rolled out a 10-point plan to save the Ohio GOP, which includes, “Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct.” It’s time to hold Kevin DeWine and the Ohio Republican Party to that commitment by demanding they rid the party of self-interested politicians and replace them with candidates who will uphold both the letter and spirit of the law, not to mention their sacred oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

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