Tag Archives: Dave Hobson

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.

Steve Austria doomed to defeat

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.

Austria contributors in bad company

Although it was not announced until recently, back in November the FBI raided the offices of PMA, a Washington lobbying firm. Just like Dave Hobson before him, Congressman Steve Austria received thousands from PMA associates, including Paul Magliochetti, who founded the firm in 1989. According to John Bresnahan, Politico, sources close to PMA said the firm has “disintegrated” in recent months and Magliochetti has hired criminal defense counsel.

For more than two years this reporter has been requesting an investigation into Hobson’s and Austria’s connections with PMA and the Dayton Development Coalition. I have been seeking public records from the Greene County Commission that could point to Hobson and Austria steering the no-bid BRAC Initiative contract to the Coalition in 2003. According to Bresnahan, Pentagon officials are also studying whether the military is “receiving value” for work done by small defense firms like Greentree Group and Qbase, two companies paid by the Coalition to work on the BRAC Initiative, a $1.9 million contract funded by Greene County taxpayers. Greentree and Qbase employees have also contributed thousands to Hobson and Austria. Furthermore, according to www.opensecrets.org, during the BRAC Initiative period of performance (October 2003 – September 2006), the Dayton Development Coalition paid PMA more than $500,000 to lobby on “real estate” matters. I have a hard time connecting the dots between “real estate” and protecting defense related jobs at Wright-Patterson.

In any case, it’s time Dave Hobson and Steve Austria return their PMA contributions or better yet, give them to charity as other legislators have pledged to do, unless of course Hobson and Austria expect they will need that money at some point for their own criminal defense counsel.

$900,000 missing in Greene County?

By John Mitchel, LtCol, USAF (Ret)

John Mitchel, Patriots Against Public Corruption founder, announced that he would testify before the Greene County Commission on February 10th at 9:00 AM. He claims that the Greene County Commission has conspired to illegally launder County tax dollars into the campaign funds of Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and other Greene County politicians. Furthermore, according to Mitchel, the Board of Commissioners has collaborated with other elected and appointed officials to cover up pervasive “pay-to-play” politics in Greene County.

In response to the announcement Mitchel commented, “In 2003 the Greene County Commission signed an un-bid contract with the Dayton Development Coalition for $1.9 million to lobby for Wright Patterson AFB during 2005 Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) negotiations. Except for politicians, officers and staff at the Coalition, and a few consultants, this sweetheart deal did nothing to advance economic development in the Miami Valley, let alone Greene County. Not only does this look and smell like money laundering on behalf of Austria, Hobson and others, it may violate three state laws, not to mention the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.”

Mitchel added, “I think it’s strange that even though the contract was for $1.9 million, only $1 million was financed by Greene County taxpayers through a grant and Economic Development Note with interest. I believe the citizens first should know why they paid the interest on an interest-free loan to the Dayton Development Coalition, a private corporation, and second, what is the source and what happened to the unaccounted-for $900,000. Sooner or later we will learn the answers to those questions. Hopefully that will happen Tuesday after I offer my testimony before the Greene County Commission.”

Steve Austria’s Desperate Political Sliming of Ron Hood

Who said dirty politics is reserved for lawyers and wannabe lawyers on Capitol Hill? Don’t be fooled it’s for those trying to get their too. Like his mentor, Steve Austria is mired in the muck of dirty tactics because he obviously fears Ron Hood may win.

In case you have not heard of Steve Austria or Ron Hood, these two politicians are running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Austria is the current Ohio Senate majority leader. He is a Beavercreek Ohio businessman not a lawyer like his mentor Dave Hobson, who is retiring from his career job on Capitol Hill. Remember those words. Hobson is a career politician who never wrote a law and he is Austria’s mentor.

Ron Hood also is a businessman and the son-in-law of Bill and Pam Dean. The Dean family is one of Xenia’s prominent entrepreneurs in the service sector. Hood served in the Ohio House of Representative from 1995-2000 and 2005-2006. Unlike Austria who is endorsed only by several party organizations, Hood is endorsed by a number of family associations like Family First, Moms for Ohio and Citizens for Community Values, by several gun owners associations, and by the Chamber of Commerce.

What inspired this post was a slick mailer I received yesterday from Austria. The sliming of Ron Hood advertisement says Hood voted with democrats 80% of the time. Austria’s glossy green with yellow letters oversize postcard accuses Hood of being a RINO, which means a Republican in name only. On the front and back, it says Ron Hood is a Democrat. The real interesting thing about Austria’s sliming tactic is found in the small print. That’s right, in small print Austria acknowledges his accusations are based only on 3 bills and not on Hood’s entire record. Out of the hundreds of bills Hood sponsored and the many more he voted on only House Bill 66, House Bill 23, and House Bill 160 are used as proof of Hood being an undercover liberal. I checked the huge budget bill House Bill 66. I found conservatives Dewine and Widener voting with the Democrats on a lot of legislative items too. Does that make them liberals too?

It is obvious Austria is a real political desperado willing to do any thing to win. It also shows what kind of politician he really is.

From only 3 budget bills, Austria accuses Hood of voting against legislation like cutting family income taxes, eliminating unfair business taxes, cutting government spending, creating tougher sex offender laws, giving employers of convicted felons a tax break (House Bill 160), voting for a gutted version of law to regulate strip clubs (House Bill 23). All of that and more from just 3 bills.

If we consider Hood’s entire record, it becomes apparent that he actually worked to cut taxes and government spending. Yes, he opposed Gov. Taft aggressive tax and spend policies, which mean he is guilty of voting with Democrats on those types of bills. He even had the audacity to propose or support bills to eliminate some of the bureaucracy. Austria accuses him of voting against tougher sex offender laws. Yet, Hood sponsored and voted for bills for better victim rights law as well as tougher sex offender laws. In fact, Hood worked to pass laws preventing sex offense, abortions, and anti-family policy from existing in Ohio. That is why liberals voting him out of office in 2006. What Hood did oppose and Austria favored was redundant law forcing church workers to report suspected sex abuse under penalty of law for failing to do so. I still think it was a bad law because recent studies show public school teachers are more often sexually abuse children than Catholic priests. The same studies reveal the school system protects teachers from prosecution for such crimes.

Austria also accuses Hood of supporting House Bill 160 that would gives employers of convicted felons a tax break. It is true Hood did sponsor a bill that would have given incentives to employers to hire ex-cons or “qualified reforming felons.” What is better employers employing ex-cons or ex-cons returning to crime in order to have food, shelter, and other necessities of life? At least by going back to prison, ex-cons get those necessities furnished. It would have been interesting to see how Austria would have voted had the bill passed through committee to a full vote by the General Assembly.

Austria was also attempting to slime Hood over his vote for a gutted version of law to regulate strip clubs (House Bill 23). What Austria failed to mention was that he was the one who gutted House Bill 23, according to Citizens for Community Values. What Austria did was remove bill’s operating hour restriction of 11pm, the 6 foot space between nude or semi-nude employees and patrons, and weakened the authority of townships to regulate sex clubs. Most strip clubs are in municipalities but most of the related crime occurs in townships. Thus, the bill Hood originally sponsored was showpiece for politicians like Austria to say they did something about strip club problem.

Austria’s dirty political tactic against Hood raises the ethics question. Anyone who attempts to deceive the public in such an under-handed but strategic way shows not only desperation but also questionable ethical quality. He is supposed to be pro-life and pro-family. Should we not expect at least honesty from him?

Yet, it was Austria whose ethics have been called into question by Retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Mitchel. His investigation into the BRAC deal led him to bring charges against Austria, his wife, his mentor, and others for using No Bid government contracts to launder money. Citizens should be asking the Governor and Attorney General what is being done about it. (See sources below.)

How ethical is that?

Austria also criticizes Hood for not giving any aid to families of soldiers killed in action. Austria didn’t give his own money to the fallen Col. Paul Kelly’s family he gave money given by others supporting his annual fund raiser. It seems Austria decided to donate the proceeds when he wanted the general public to see what a great guy his is supposed to be. I hope it was truly out of compassion and not for votes.

Austria’s unwarranted sliming tactic reveals Austria’s desperation to win. Like his sugar daddy mentor, he might be good for corporate business, but even that is questionable. Hobson supported the gay Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that violates every First Amendment right of business owners, who by the way are also American citizens. If Austria is like his mentor, we will not have a lawmaker but a wheeler-and-dealer of pork who just happens to vote for conservative bills and sometimes for liberal ones too–like ENDA. I suspect the reason Hobson voted for ENDA was not to eliminate discrimination but because many major corporation support the gay lobby. I doubt Austria is really any different.

Hood created and supported legislation defending strong traditional families, marriage and life. He also supported legislation to help create a business friendly state. Hood appears to be a genuine conservative lawmaker. It is Austria’s conservativism that is in question.

Sources for Lt. Col. John Mitchel Charges:

Lt. Col. John Mitchel , Letter to Ohio’s Legal Officials 09 November 2007.

Jeff, OH-07: Austria (R) Called Co-Conspirator in Corrupt Steering of No-Bid Contracts, Ohio Daily Blog 16 January 2008.

Ret. Lt. Col. John Mitchel, Who will guard the guards?, ReformCongress.com 13 February 2008.

Fallen Heroes: Army Col. Paul M. Kelly, Fallen Heroes Weblog 20 January 2007.

Aaron Keith Harris, Austria donates proceeds from fundraiser to family of fallen soldier, Xenia Daily Gazette 20 July 2007.