A tale of two fall guys (Part 2)
In our last post OCGJ compared the transgressions and sentencing of rogue Athens County (Ohio) sheriff, Pat Kelly to another criminal, former Greene County Treasurer, James Schmidt. After years of causing embarrassment to the political class, Kelly was prosecuted and sent to prison for seven years. In contrast, Schmidt was offered probation with a nominal fine despite stealing from Greene County taxpayers for over two decades. The main difference between Kelly and Schmidt is that Republican James Schmidt for nearly a quarter century operated inside Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s inner circle where Kelly was a Democrat outsider looking in.
This week OCGJ will compare recently disgraced 4-term Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock to Dave Hobson, 9-term Republican Congressman from Ohio. Just as in the Kelly-Schmidt dichotomy, there are significant differences between Aaron Schock and Dave Hobson. When Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock won election to Congress in 2008 he was the youngest House member so he didn’t have time to move up to positions of leadership as Hobson did. More than anything else, that saved Hobson. Hobson used his positions as Chairman of the Military Construction and Energy and Water Appropriations committees to not only expand his power base, but also to shield himself from accountability from the Department of Justice, the House Ethics Committee, the FEC and other institutions intended to prosecute over-the-top corruption. However, as powerful as he was, Hobson could not distance himself from the facts that perhaps identify him among the most corrupt congressmen ever elected in Ohio. Hobson’s terminal financial disclosure statement places his personal assets at up to $15 million. Our question at OCGJ would be, “unless he inherited it, how did a career politician on a public servant’s salary accumulate that kind of wealth over a 25-year career as a State Senator and U.S. Congressman?” Here are a few documented sweetheart deals engineered by Dave Hobson and his political class cronies that may answer that question.
- On the promise of jobs to his district, in 2005 Hobson secured a $4.5 million earmark for TPI Composites to develop an Army vehicle similar to the Humvee, but with lighter materials. Lobbyist Juliet Pacquing collected $60,000 from TPI Composites. Her husband, Kevin Cook was Hobson’s top staffer for the House Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and Water. For nearly seven months after the Springfield (OH) plant closed in March 2009, Mr. Hobson and his successor, Steve Austria, took credit for up to 100 jobs at that facility. That claim may have helped Hobson and Austria raise campaign cash, but if those jobs exist at all they now do so at TPI Composite facilities in China, Mexico, Rhode Island or Iowa. (2, 3) The TPI Composites earmark also links him to real estate tycoon Tom Loftis. In fact, OCGJ has unearthed Hobson’s undisclosed financial relationship with Loftis and Midland Properties, who brokered the lease on the TPI Composites manufacturing facility in Springfield, Ohio.
- Tom Loftis, Hobson’s undisclosed business partner, is also knee deep in the corruption at Nextedge Development Corporation in Springfield. Nextedge, a bankrupt and former wholly owned subsidiary of the Turner Foundation, with taxpayer dollars earmarked by Hobson and Austria in 2005 purchased the 205 acre Nextedge Research Park for about $4.7 million. If Dave Hobson didn’t benefit directly, you can be sure his Clark County cronies laughed all the way to the bank. To add insult to injury, Hobson’s District Director, Eileen Austria and spouse of Steve Austria, Hobson’s handpicked replacement, was hired by Nextedge a few days after she left Hobson’s staff. Austria never disclosed Mrs. Austria’s employment with Nextedge.
- The coup de gras that forever seals Dave Hobson’s corrupt legacy is his involvement with the taxpayer funded BRAC Initiative Agreement. In that sweetheart deal Hobson reaped the benefits of his inner circle transferring Greene County and Ohio tax dollars to the Dayton Development Coalition, a private, non-profit corporation with the bogus mission of advancing economic development in the Miami Valley. Besides Hobson receiving laundered campaign cash, at the end of the day the only folks who benefitted were the overpaid executives at the Coalition, and the Greentree Group and PMA Group, two of Hobson’s most prolific campaign donors who were non-competitively awarded the $1.9 million deal in 2003.
The scope of former Congressman Aaron Schock’s abuses pales in comparison to Hobson’s quarter century of graft, corruption and backroom deals that benefited Hobson and his inner circle; but of course Hobson never has and likely never will be held accountable. As long as the citizen class tolerates this one-way transfer of wealth by political class elitists we will continue our march toward the irrevocable slavery that awaits us at the bottom of the abyss.
- Barbara Burkin, Massachusetts Green Bubble Alert: TPI Composites, June 3, 2012.
- Springfield News Sun, Mar 18, 2009.
- USA Today, October 16, 2006.