By John Mitchel
RE: Local contractors under scrutiny for using paid military “mentors”, Dayton Daily News, December 30, 2009: Many consider Gen. Bill Creech as “father of the modern Air Force.”
During his distinguished career and before he died in 2003, Gen. Creech practiced and preached the notion that the most important responsibility of a leader is to train new leaders. “Mentoring” was on Gen. Creech’s short list of important tasks required to prepare Air Force leaders for the future. However, simultaneous receipt of $1600 a day mentoring fees plus a six-figure military pension plus hundreds of thousands in consulting fees from defense contractors doesn’t seem to fit Gen. Creech’s noble intentions of preparing Air Force leaders for challenges they may face in the future. Besides, each senior officer participating in the Air Force mentoring program has more than 30 years experience on active duty. That should be sufficient time to positively instill the core values of duty, honor, country in subordinates of all ranks, and especially the senior troops who more senior officers deal with on a daily basis.
“Mentors for hire” may seem abusive to some, but it pales in comparison to the ease and speed in which elected officials and their staff members pass through the “revolving door.” Take for example Congressman Dave Hobson, who retired a multi-millionaire after nearly 30 years of public service, then took a job as a lobbyist for Vorys Advisors, a subsidiary of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, LLC, a Columbus law firm. And let’s not forget Congressman Steve Austria’s wife Eileen, who moved from Congressman Dave Hobson’s District Director to Director of Sales and Marketing with Nextedge Development Corporation, a non-profit, tax exempt company 60-70 percent financed by tax dollars including federal earmarks requested by Dave Hobson and Third Frontier and other state funding sponsored by Steve Austria when he was in the Ohio General Assembly. It’s no wonder approval ratings for Congress are at all-time lows.
If the revolving door between government and the private sector should exist at all, it should be with two conditions; full and open disclosure, and a reasonable cooling off period, especially at the most senior levels. Instead, the usual suspects prefer to conceal their self-dealing with faceless private corporations, and more often than not, through non-profit, tax exempt entities financed mostly with taxpayer dollars. Term limits, self imposed or otherwise, would be a step in the right direction to mitigate the revolving door issue for federal elected officials. That would motivate our congressional leaders to act as citizen legislators who serve for a time, and then return to their home districts to enjoy the liberty and freedom they helped protect as representatives of the people. The longer we allow the self-dealing career politician mindset to prevail in Washington and Columbus, the closer we will come to America falling into the abyss.
John Mitchel was a candidate for Ohio governor in 1998 and ran for U.S. House of Representatives in the 7th Congressional District in 2008. In 2006 he wrote and self-published America at the Abyss: A View from the Heartland.