Remember when Ohio Democrats charged into power accusing the GOP of being corrupt after too much time under “One Party Rule”? During those heady days Democratic politicians seemingly couldn’t talk about an issue without using the phrase “party of corruption.” But then their standard bearer and inspiration turned out to have some problems of his own.
Those not blinded by partisanship, however, have long understood that corruption isn’t connected to one party or the other but to flawed human nature and the temptations of power.
Even so, many have wondered how it was that seemingly the entire Ohio GOP structure was tainted with corruption because Bob Taft failed to report some golf outings and a long time operative/fundraiser lied to people who considered him a friend while concocting some complicated scam involving coin investments and the BWC.
Why do I bring all this up? No reason
Three Cuyahoga County officials were accused today of steering jobs and millions of dollars in public contracts for Las Vegas gambling trips, expensive meals and “personal services” in the first major charges to be filed in the county public corruption scandal.
Federal prosecutors charged J. Kevin Kelley, a former Parma school board member, and two others who worked with him in the county engineer’s office with conspiracy, public corruption, bribery, tax counts and mail fraud.
Kelley, Kevin Payne and Daniel Gallagher — all with ties to the engineer’s office — and a fourth man, Brian Schuman, are expected to appear in U.S. District Court for their first appearances within the next few weeks.
A cynical person might wonder about this type of thing and its connection to the Democratic Party. They might wonder if the incestuous relationship between the party power brokers in urban areas and those that depend on government contracts (from social services to construction and transportation) breeds corruption. Some might even wonder about a president whose career started in an urban area with a long history of such corruption.
Payne, Gallagher and Kelley are accused of helping to steer $5.26 million in contracts for the county’s GIS system in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.
The charges also said that Kelley helped push a $1.8 million contract through the Parma schools, where he was the president of the board. Kelley made an agreement with the unknown company to kick back thousands of dollars to Gallagher’s company, the Eagle Group, supposedly for public relations work. Gallagher, Payne and Kelley split $12,000 of the money given to Gallagher’s company.
But I’m not that cynical …