Hobson/Austria/DeWine above the law?
In this series OCGJ exposed over-the-top leniency law enforcement and the courts granted Greene and Clark County Republican insiders Monte Zinn, Bill Schenck and James Schmidt. Last week we detailed the relatively heavy-handed sentence laid on Democrat Clayton Luckie, and Republican Judge Colleen O’Donnell’s denying Luckie early release after serving 13 months. As we wind down this series, we’ll take a closer look at two similar cases, one where lobbying firm PMA Group broke the law by illegally bundling campaign contributions to Dave Hobson and Steve Austria.
2012 Ohio Republican congressional candidates Josh Mandel and James Renacci have at least one striking similarity to Dave Hobson and Steve Austria…..they all received illegal campaign contributions bundled by law-breaking zealots who tried to get around campaign contribution limits. In May 2014 Michael Giorgio, 61, pled guilty to charges that involve conspiracy to commit campaign fraud, making contributions in someone else’s name, making contributions on behalf of a corporation, witness tampering and making a false statement. (Source: Associated Press, Ohio executive pleads guilty in campaign probe, Dayton Daily News, May 20, 2014, Page B2) Part of Giorgio’s plea agreement was to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Giorgio’s boss, Ben Suarez, who allegedly masterminded the scheme. To their credit, Mandel and Renacci returned the illegal campaign contributions unlike Dave Hobson and Steve Austria.
Former Ohio Congressmen Dave Hobson and Steve Austria were in the identical situation in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles when Paul Magliochetti illegally bundled contributions from Jon Walker and John Pugliese, who later committed suicide when he lost his job after the investigation went public.
According to www.fec.gov, the Federal Election Commission’s campaign finance disclosure website:
- Pugliese and Walker both contributed $1000 to Steve Austria’s congressional campaign committee on the same day…..June 17, 2008.
- Pugliese and Walker both contributed $2000 to Dave Hobson’s campaign on July 27, 2006, and $2000 on June 19, 2007.
Some may ask, “Who cares?…..Austria and Hobson accepted these contributions years ago, and thinking the citizens would forget, kept them despite knowing they violated the law, but there’s also clear evidence of a quid pro quo. Magliochetti’s PMA Group and the Greentree Group, a family-owned defense contractor in Beavercreek, Ohio were two of Hobson’s and Austria’s most prolific contributors, not to mention that Hobson threw millions of dollars of earmarks toward the Greentree Group and PMA clients. FEC records indicate that at least three generations of Greenwoods (Sam, Travis, Carolyn, Lisa and Caitlyn) contributed over $200,000 to Hobson and Austria since 2003, and later to Republicans Mike Turner and Mike DeWine. Furthermore, a deep dive into Travis’s daughter Caitlyn’s contributions reveals that when she was 12 or 13 years old on June 30, 2006, she contributed $2100 to Mike Dewine’s failed campaign for the U.S. Senate. If the FEC reported accurately, Mike DeWine’s campaign may have received illegal campaign contributions. It’s illegal for Caitlyn’s father or grandfather to contribute to federal campaigns through a surrogate with the intent to dodge maximum contributions. At the time it was also illegal for corporations like the Greenwood family-owned Greentree Group to contribute. By the way, if you believe Caitlyn’s $2100 contribution to candidate Mike DeWine came out of her piggy bank or college fund, you may as well crawl back into your phone booth and check in later when you’re ready to accept the truth about the corrupt Ohio Republican Party.
Having said that, there’s one more smoking gun that ties Greentree to Hobson, DeWine and Austria; that would be the 2003 sweetheart deal that laundered $1.9 million in unappropriated Greene County tax dollars to the candidates and the insiders at the Dayton Development Coalition. Steve Austria (when he was State Senator), Eileen Austria (when she was Dave Hobson’s District Director) and Barb Schenck (when she was Senator Mike DeWine’s State Director), all served on the Dayton Development Coalition’s Advisory Committee that steered unappropriated tax dollars to Greentree through the 2003 BRAC Initiative Agreement.
Open disclosure of campaign contributions was supposed to be the cure-all to the Watergate scandal, but what good are those disclosures if they provide probable cause to investigate, but the political class looks the other way?