Former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Mitchel, who is opposing Steve Austria in the May 4th Republican primary, called for Steve Austria to withdraw from the race. Mitchel says he is merely following guidelines established by State GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine. According to Mitchel, in January 2009, Kevin DeWine put together a 10-point plan to rehabilitate the Ohio Republican Party torn apart by Coingate and other scandals. Mitchel says one of those points is to “Enforce a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct.” He lists the following examples of what he believes to be misconduct by Steve Austria and his spouse, Eileen, who for almost two decades was District Director for former Congressman Dave Hobson.
1. Nepotism: Steve Austria’s influence with campaign contributors associated with the Turner Foundation led to a job for Mrs. Austria at non-profit Nextedge Development Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Turner Foundation, another non-profit corporation based in Springfield .
2. Failure to disclose Mrs. Austria ’s employment with Nextedge: Steve Austria attempted to conceal on his federal Financial Disclosure Statement Mrs. Austria ’s employment with Nextedge. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is investigating. (FEC Matter Under Review ( MUR ) 6240)
3. Failure to disclose on his Financial Disclosure Statement Mr. and Mrs. Austria’s membership on the Dayton Development Coalition’s Wright Patt 2010 Committee from 2003 to 2007: As members of the Committee, Mr. and Mrs. Austria helped steer no-bid contracts financed by Greene County taxpayers to the PMA Group, a Washington lobbying firm raided by the FBI in November 2008 and now under investigation for illegal campaign contributions in exchange for earmarks, including contributions to Steve Austria and Dave Hobson. (Source: Center for Public Integrity, September 2009) Greene County Commissioners Anderson, Perales and Reid can confirm that the FBI has taken custody of 26 boxes of related documents from the Dayton Development Coalition with cooperation from the Greene County Prosecutor’s office.
4. Mrs. Austria’s illegal use of Dave Hobson’s Member Representational Account (MRA) in the last two months of her employment as Dave Hobson’s District Director: The Federal Election Commission is investigating allegations that while Mrs. Austria was still working as Dave Hobson’s District Director, she abused that position to raise over $221,000 for her husband’s congressional campaign from 246 donors from October 27, 2007 to December 31, 2007. (FEC Matter Under Review (MUR) 6240)
Mitchel commented, “Our campaign is in full agreement with Kevin DeWine in that the Ohio Republican Party should enforce a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct by its elected officials and candidates. Now it’s time to hold Kevin DeWine accountable and demand that whether or not Steve Austria withdraws from the May 4th primary, the Republican Party will aggressively cooperate with the ongoing investigation. To do otherwise will further undermine the credibility of Ohio Republican Party leadership and could bring the entire ticket down in November.”