Who killed the Ohio 7th?
The Ohio 7th Congressional District that existed for more than a half century has been virtually erased from Ohio’s political landscape. The demise of the 7th District cannot provide a better example of the political class exploiting their citizen constituents for personal and political gain. When Mike DeWine began his 3-term stint as U.S. Representative in 1984, Ohio’s 7th Congressional District encompassed all or parts of nine counties (Champaign, Clark, Fayette, Green, Logan, Madison, Marion, Pickaway and Union). When DeWine’s successor, Dave Hobson, finished his ninth term as the 7th District Rep in 2009, the district included all or parts of seven counties (Greene, Clark, Fayette, Pickaway, Fairfield, Ross and Perry). When Hobson’s successor, Steve Austria was given his pink slip after two terms as 7th District Representative, the district as a political entity had virtually disintegrated with its constituent counties spread here and there to protect those in the political class that share the responsibility for the District’s demise.
Although Steve Austria wasn’t in office long enough to fully exploit the financial benefits available to an elitist congressman, we can say with certainty that Mike DeWine’s and Dave Hobson’s personal net worth skyrocketed during their tenures as career politicians. Who in the citizen class could build enough wealth as Mike DeWine did to loan $2 million to his 2010 campaign for Ohio Attorney General (AG)? But don’t feel sorry for Mr. DeWine as he has nearly paid off that loan to himself with money raised since he began his first term as AG in 2011. His opponent in the November election believes much of those loan repayments came from pay-to-play politics and bid-rigging to benefit longtime DeWine crony, Peter Spatalieri, and other vendors vying for lucrative state contracts awarded by the Attorney General.
Dave Hobson has also amassed millions with real estate investments made since he entered politics in the early 80’s. This past April and May OCGJ did a 7-part series on Hobson’s ubiquitous excursions into real estate, some disclosed and others illegally hidden from public view. There is no shortage of probable cause to open an independent investigation on Hobson’s shaky real estate ventures, but especially noteworthy is his undisclosed relationship documented here between TPI Composites, Midland Properties and longtime Clark County Hobson crony, Tom Loftis. In any case, back to Ohio’s 7th District.
When Mike DeWine came to Congress in 1984 the Ohio 7th was one of 21 congressional districts. There are now only sixteen reflecting the vast migration away from Ohio to states with lower taxes, better job growth and more respectful of the rights of their citizens. Although they would never face up to it, that is the true legacy of DeWine, Hobson and Austria, the final three congressional representatives of Ohio’s Seventh District. While they enriched themselves, their families and the special interests that provided the campaign cash to keep them in office, the citizens suffered the consequences. The simple truth is we would have done much better without the three-headed monster that took the Ohio 7th into the abyss, enriching their personal self- interests in the process.