By John Mitchel
RE: “Invasion of privacy isn’t fault of Ohio’s taxpayers,” Dayton Daily News, November 26, 2009:
In his “Other Voices” column, Mike DeWine rightly points out that, “The Attorney General may not represent an employee who acts recklessly, maliciously or in bad faith outside the scope of his employment.” To be sure, Ohio taxpayers should not have to pay to defend government officials who act outside the law. That’s precisely what happened in a lawsuit filed against Greene County Commissioners. To add insult to injury, taxpayers also paid for a cover-up perpetrated by the Greene County Common Pleas Court (Reference Case No. 2009-CV-0305).
In my public records lawsuit I asked the Greene County Common Pleas Court to force the Greene County Commissioners to produce public records related to the 2003 BRAC Initiative Agreement with the Dayton Development Coalition. Tragically, the Court dismissed my lawsuit on a procedural technicality, then less than 24 hours later, the Greene County Prosecutor’s office released 26 boxes of requested records, but only after at least two public investigative agencies got involved. Greene County elected officials suddenly realized they broke the law three times; once when they withheld public records from a private citizen, again when the County Prosecutor defended their illegal action, and finally when the Greene County Common Pleas Court covered up their malfeasance.
But perhaps they finally got it right in October when they hired a private Columbus law firm (Downes, Fishel, Hass, Kim, LLP) to defend them against further actions. Trouble is; the taxpayers will pay for that too, which could add up to $50,000.
On Friday March 13, Plaintiff John Mitchel filed suit in Greene County Common Pleas Court against County Prosecutor Steve Haller and County Commissioners Rick Perales and Marilyn Reid. He also named former Greene County Commissioners Ralph Harper and Reed Madden as Defendants in a writ of mandamus requesting the court order defendants to produce public records related to Greene County’s 2003 BRAC Initiative Agreement with the Dayton Development Coalition.
In response to filing the civil suit, Mitchel commented, “The last time I checked our elected officials were accountable to Ohio statutes just like their constituents. Ohio law strictly defines county commissioners’ oversight responsibilities in contracts such as the BRAC Initiative Agreement with private corporations such as the Dayton Development Coalition. Furthermore, the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) clearly states that records related to the BRAC Initiative Agreement are “public records” and as such, are subject to public scrutiny. Moreover, through information available in the public domain I have identified a clear money trail starting with Greene County taxpayer dollars passing through the Dayton Development Coalition and un-bid contracts with private consultants, the Greentree Group and PMA, a Washington lobbyist, and then on to former Congressman Dave Hobson and Hobson’s replacement, Steve Austria. For example, over the years PMA contributed over $60,000 to Hobson and Austria campaigns. According to the Associated Press, PMA is under investigation and will shut down operations by the end of March. Paul Magliochetti, who founded PMA in 1989, has hired criminal defense counsel.”
Mitchel added, “What we have here is compelling evidence of bid-rigging, “pay-to-play” politics and money laundering, a violation of the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that this suit is specifically targeted only to public records releasable pursuant to O.R.C. Chapter 149. Once those records are produced we will be able to determine whether or not to go forward with the case in a higher court.”