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Josh Mandel’s Taxpayer-Funded TV Ad Scandal Grows

New Report Reveals Absence of Records Surrounding Decision to Spend 2 Million Taxpayer Dollars on TV Ads

Following months of scandal surrounding State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s taxpayer-funded TV ad program – during which it was revealed that Mandel directly contradicted the recommended marketing plan and spent $2 million in taxpayer funds on self-promotional TV ads – The Columbus Dispatch reports that Mandel’s office did not keep any written communication of the decision to spend the money.

From David Bergstein, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Spokesman: “At every turn, Josh Mandel is offering Ohioans more proof that he’s a hypocritical, self-serving politician who will push his own interests at their expense. The reason he doesn’t practice the same kind of transparency he pays lip-service to is because it would expose that he’s spending tax dollars to advance his own political agenda. The truth about Josh is very simple: he’s only ever looking out for himself.”

Columbus Dispatch: Records regarding Mandel commercials hard to come by
By Marty Schladen
October 17, 207 

Key Points:

  • “Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel says he’s a major proponent of government transparency, pointing often to the online Ohio Checkbook he created. But he’s also claiming there was no written communication among him and his senior staff about the cost of and payments for a $2 million series of television ads that ran last year at taxpayer expense.”
  • “That’s the opposite of transparency, several observers said Monday.”
  • “‘It’s entirely not plausible that a state agency would find a way to spend $2 million on advertising without internal discussion about it or written communication about it,’ said David R. Marburger, a Cleveland attorney who has written a book about Ohio’s open-records law. ‘It’s even more implausible that this would be designed to be in increments small enough to avoid the Board of Control with no written communication.’”
  • “The treasurer’s office ended up running about $2 million worth of commercials, which featured Mandel and Ohio State Football Coach Urban Meyer. And it broke up the buys into chunks of less than $50,000 apiece, thereby avoiding a requirement to get approval from the Controlling Board. In response, Mandel’s fellow Republicans in the legislature passed a law as part of the budget this year to put a stop to the practice.”
  • The ads aired just before Mandel announced that he would again run for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown, prompting a watchdog group to question whether the ads were intended to promote the STABLE program or Mandel’s political career. Those questions grew louder this summer when Cleveland.com reported that Mandel’s own marketing plan said big-budget TV commercials were not the best way to promote the savings program.”
  • “To get an idea of what Mandel and his top aides were thinking when they decided to buy so much airtime and pay for it in scores of separate chunks, The Dispatch in August requested all written communications between Mandel and five of his top staffers concerning the cost of and the payments made for the ads.”
  • “Mandel’s office responded last week with thousands of pages of invoices from TV stations and orders from the treasurer for ads, but nary a single email or a text among Mandel and his top employees discussing why they undertook the campaign in the way that they did. Asked if the treasurer’s office was claiming there were no written communications among the treasurer and senior staff about the cost of and payments made for a $2 million, taxpayer-funded ad buy, Mandel aide Chris Berry responded, ‘Correct.’
  • That’s fishy even if it is accurate, said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, a group that advocates government transparency. ‘My educated guess is they, in fact, deliberately avoided putting anything in writing,’ she said.”

Read the full article here. 

WATCH: Cleveland FOX 8 News (10.17.17)

 

See also:
Cleveland.com: Josh Mandel’s $2 million ad campaign went against focus of marketing plan
Cleveland.com: For Josh Mandel, no gutter is too deep, no shot too cheap: Brent Larkin
Toledo Blade: Mandel’s public service ad comes under scrutiny
Columbus Dispatch: GOP lawmakers target Mandel with budget amendment
Toledo ABC 13 [Video]: Mandel’s Commercial Cost Taxpayers More than $1.7 million
Akron Beacon Journal: Mandel being Mandel
Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Josh Mandel’s $1.7 million in taxpayer-financed “public service” ads look like a political plug: editorial
Toledo Blade: Kirk: Josh Mandel’s soapbox
Dayton Daily News: State treasurer defends spending $1.84M in public money on TV ads
Dayton Daily News: Mandel’s tax-funded phone chats raise questions
Dayton Daily News: Ohio treasurer ran state-funded ads just before announcing Senate run 

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