OK, this one is going to require a bit of background. Short version: Ohio courts have just indicted a bunch of Democrats – some of whom have links to both Governor Strickland (D-OH) and Lt Governor Fisher (D-OH) – in a complicated real estate corruption case. The word ‘tendrils’ comes to mind: stick around and you’ll see why.
It went like this:
- The Oakhill Renaissance Center is a former hospital site in Youngstown, OH that has been turned into a nonprofit multi-tenant business facility. It was purchased by the Mahoning County, OH government in 2006.
- Mahoning County decided to move its Jobs and Family Services (JFS) offices into Oakhill. The director at the time was John Zachariah.
- This meant moving the JFS offices out of Garland Plaza, which is owned by the Cafaro company. The Cafaro company is run by Anthony Cafaro (father of Ohio state senator Capri Cafaro) and his sister Flora Cafaro. Anthony and his wife have given almost ten grand to Lt. Gov Fisher’s Senate campaign.
- Several county officials (Commissioner John McNally, auditor Michael Sciortino, and former treasurer John Reardon) opposed the move, and have continued to oppose the move, claiming that it was not cost effective.
- John Reardon, by the way, went on to become a state appointee of Gov Strickland’s.
- In 2008 attorney Martin Yovarcik unsuccessfully ran against Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains. He received $120K in campaign funds from various entities involved with Cafaro.
- It has come out that McNally, Sciortino, and Reardon were all in constant contact with Anthony Cafaro, who actively opposed to the move (and the loss of roughly half a million dollars in annual rent revenue).
- In March Gains started a grand jury investigation.
- Yesterday Anthony Cafaro, Flora Cafaro, Zachariah, McNally, Sciortino, Reardon, & Yovarcik were indicted on a total of 73 counts, including: money laundering; tampering with records; perjury; and bribery.
- The indictment can be found here.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that Governor Strickland is guilty of anything except exceptionally poor executive judgment in picking Reardon for a position of trust and authority. But I do not that Lt. Gov Fisher did take quite a bit of money from a man with a somewhat, ah, dubious reputation – and who is now being charged with using campaign contributions to hide a bribe. Shouldn’t Lee Fisher be giving that money back? Or has Lee Fisher decided that there’s no harm in letting the suspicion that his Cafaro money came with the same ‘understanding’ as did Yovarcik’s?
Crossposted to Moe Lane.