Records regarding Mandel commercials hard to come by

Columbus Dispatch, October 16th, 2017

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.”

  • 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.”

Read the full story here.

Timeline of Josh Mandel's $2 Million Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to Josh Mandel’s taxpayer-funded ad scandal. Here's the timeline of events:

June 13, 2016: Josh Mandel holds a press conference to announce what he calls a “Public Service Announcement” about a bipartisan-backed program allowing disabled Ohioans to open tax-free savings accounts. Fails to mention that taxpayers would foot the bill, how much they would cost Ohio, and that he was already raising money for another Senate campaign.

February 17th, 2017: Dayton Daily News reports that Josh Mandel spent nearly $2 million of TAXPAYER dollars to run these ads across Ohio, and that he ran them during the months leading up to announcing his run for U.S. Senate.

It gets shadier: Mandel’s office deliberately broke up the ad buys into less-than $50,000 increments to avoid approval from the Controlling Board.

February 22nd, 2017: Cleveland’s FOX 8 followed up on the report and reached out multiple times to Mandel’s office for an explanation. Their reporter even drove down to Columbus to get answers. Josh blew him off, leaving his press secretary to say that it’s “disgusting that the liberal political bosses are trying to politicize something that's totally non-political.”

Well, it’s disgusting to spend nearly $2 million dollars of taxpayer money to promote yourself on TV instead of investing it in the program you're pretending to care about.

April 28th, 2017: Ohio’s GOP-led legislature introduces the “Mandel Amendment” which closed the loophole Mandel exploited to spend TAXPAYER dollars to promote himself through expensive advertising just before announcing his run for Senate.

May 9th, 2017: The Associated Press reports that “Josh Mandel Skips Hearing Over Taxpayer Funded Television Spots” 

June 20th, 2017: State law had required Josh to "develop marketing plans and promotional materials" to publicize the plan. Following suit, his office put together a plan. But a Cleveland.cominvestigation reports that “Among the 35 pages of marketing materials provided by the treasurer's office, TV ads are only mentioned once.” The marketing plan not only mentioned TV ads just one time, it said TV ads were NOT the best way to promote the program. One tiny suggestion doesn’t translate to nearly $2 million dollars’ worth of advertising, Josh.

October 16th, 2017: Josh and the treasurer’s office claim “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.”

The moral of the story is this: Ohio deserves better than someone we can't trust like Josh Mandel. Ohio deserves a leader who will serve the people of Ohio, not their self-serving political ambition.

In case you missed it, here's the Columbus Dispatch Editorial on Josh Mandel's scuzzy behavior

Columbus Dispatch,  OCT 21, 2017

There’s something “fishy” going on with Josh Mandel and the treasurer’s office. Last week, a Columbus Dispatch  investigation revealed that Josh is “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.”

The Dispatch Editorial Boardfollowed up over the weekend by pointing out that there are only three explanations for Josh’s behavior, and none of them are good: he’s either lying (not exactly new behavior), hiding (also in keeping with Josh’s history), or “just plain reckless.”

You can read the full story here.