Dave Hobson: Poster boy for corruption in Congress?
(Part 7-Conclusion) For the past several weeks OCGJ has focused on Dave Hobson’s “under the radar” excursions into real estate related to earmarks and special favors offered to his closest political allies. Although Hobson benefited in that they helped raise cash for his political campaigns, many of the deals he sponsored did not go well for his insider network that acted on the false hope that success would follow public money that Hobson directed to the private sector. Take for example the Nextedge Development Corporation deal where Jim Landess’s Turner Foundation and Clark County taxpayers lost millions. And then there’s failed Qbase where Beavercreek developer Mills-Morgan invested $5 million, the Turner Foundation another $4 million, $60,000 from Greene County, $943,420 from Qbase executives for loans and deferred salary, $500,000 from Springfield City government, and $1.6 million from the State of Ohio for tax credits for equipment, machinery and workforce training. (Source: Thomas Gnau, Qbase to get $5 million investment, reorganize, Dayton Daily News, January 19, 2010). Although some of Hobson’s inner circle lost millions by following Hobson’s earmarks with their own money, Dave Hobson retired from Congress a multi-millionaire on other real estate investments and backroom deals kept below the radar from the citizen class.
The “smoking gun”
When Dave Hobson retired from Congress in 2008, he was required to file a “termination” Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS). In that FDS Mr. Hobson disclosed the sale of I-Four, a general partnership consisting of himself, Tom Loftis, Peter Noonan and Andrew Hellmuth. OCGJ discovered this by tracking I-Four back to a “fictitious name” filing with Ohio Secretary of State Sherrod in 1983 (“Fictitious name” filing applies to any name that does not fully identify the user or users). Clearly an attempt to conceal his financial relationship with Loftis, Noonan and Midland Properties, Hobson registered I-Four with the Ohio Secretary of State about the same time he began his 27-year political career, eight as an Ohio State Senator and eighteen in the U.S. Congress. Recall that Loftis and Noonan both benefitted from the 2005 TPI Composites $4.6 million earmark by leasing to TPI the manufacturing facility at 2145 Airpark Drive in Springfield. Hobson and his partners renewed registration for the I-Four Partnership until it expired in 1998, but Hobson still declared it on his federal FDS until he sold I-Four in 2008.
According to his terminal Financial Disclosure Statement (Source: Legistorm.com), Dave Hobson left Congress with a personal net worth of up to $10 million. OCGJ would like to know how he accomplished that on a public servant’s salary, generous as it was, that paid Hobson less than $4 million over his 24-year career in politics. The answer could lie in his “below the radar” real estate deals, nine of which are listed on his termination Financial Disclosure Statement filed with the U.S. House of Representatives. There is no evidence that Mr. Hobson placed his personal wealth in a blind trust, which may create a huge problem for the 9-term Congressman. Did Hobson and his political allies act on insider information or profit from Hobson’s influence in Congress, especially as Chairman of the U.S. House Military Construction and Energy and Water Sub-committees?
No business deal or partnership lasts forever. As we observe from the Hobson, Loftis, Noonan, Hellmuth I-Four partnership hatched in 1983, sooner or later it becomes necessary to unwind the deal. More than 30 years later, the truth is out, but our worry is that the political class will continue to build a firewall between Hobson and due process and the rule of law just as it has for the past three decades since Dave Hobson first entered the revolving door from private citizen to the political class.