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.