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.