It’s never too early to face the facts, not to mention plan for their consequences, and the simple truth is that Steve Austria will be gone from Congress no later than 2012. The reason; after the 2010 census, Ohio will lose two congressional seats and the 7th Congressional District will be carved up to protect more senior incumbents from both parties. Here’s why you can take that to the bank.
Ohio is dying — that is reflected in the fact that since 1980 we have lost five Congressional House seats. As those seats drop off the electoral map, the competition for the decreasing number of voters becomes keener and the preferred method of competing is to make promises you can’t keep, including earmarks and spending for your constituents, but more important, for special interest campaign contributors. Because there’s only so much campaign cash to go around, fund-raising has become a ruthless science based on deception and fear mongering. Although it won’t do Steve Austria and his lobbyist spouse any good in the long run, here’s how they came to power, which also explains why they will be irrelevant at the turn of the decade.
Both Steve and Eileen Austria sat on the Dayton Development Coalition Wright Patt 2010 Advisory Committee, Steve as a State Senator and Eileen as Dave Hobson’s District Director, and as such, rubbed elbows with Miami Valley’s most wealthy and influential “kingmakers.” Since Dayton is dying faster than the rest of south-central Ohio, the powerful elitists in Montgomery County thought it was only fair they redistribute Greene County wealth among the Coalition’s inner circle. Although the double dealing is wide and deep, the 2003-2006 $1.9 million taxpayer-funded BRAC Initiative Agreement provides us with the most flagrant and transparent example of “pay-to-play” politics. Steve and Eileen Austria as well as Greene County elected officials were willing participants because that guaranteed political success, at least for the short term.
Briefly, here’s the money trail that starts with Greene County and Ohio taxpayers and ends with Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and other elected officials after it is money-laundered through the Coalition. In 2003 Greene County Commissioners awarded $1.9 million to the Dayton Development Coalition to protect existing jobs and attract others to Wright Patterson AFB. The Coalition in turn hired the Greentree Group in Beavercreek, Washington lobbyist PMA Group and other high priced consultants who had passed through the revolving door from the Department of Defense to the private sector. For example, IRS public disclosures indicate that the Coalition President and CEO, a former Air Force officer and close friend of the Austrias, received more than $500,000 in compensation in 2005 and 2006, the last two years of the BRAC contract. According to www.fec.gov and the Greene County Board of Elections, he in turn contributed thousands to Hobson, Austria and other elected officials in Greene County. The list goes on and on. Greentree associates and their families have contributed over $50,000 to Hobson and Austria. In return they received Hobson earmarks and a “no-bid, no work, no value added contract” funded by an interest free loan, $900,000 from the Ohio Third Frontier initiative and an outright $100,000 grant. During the period of performance of the BRAC Initiative Agreement, the Dayton Development Coalition paid lobbying firm PMA over $500,000. According to www.fec.gov, over the years PMA associates and their families contributed more than $100,000 to Hobson and Austria. PMA has recently closed its doors after being raided by the FBI in November following allegations they illegally bundled campaign contributions to Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and other Congressmen, which brings us back to the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Compared to Austria, the four Republican Congressmen whose districts border Austria’s 7th District (Turner, District 3; Jordan, 4; Boehner, 8; and Tiberi, 12) are virtually untouched by the PMA scandal. The political reality is that after the 2010 census, they will all need Republican votes from the 7th District to survive. Regardless of which party controls redistricting after the 2010 census, Republicans will be Mr. and Mrs. Austria’s worst enemy as they will carve up the 7th District and redistribute conservative voters among neighboring districts. In short, because of the PMA scandal, Austria will be odd man out to protect the other four Republican Congressmen in central and south central Ohio. Maybe then folks in Greene, Clark, Fairfield and other counties in the 7th District will understand the real Hobson/Austria legacy.