Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Whoever Wins The Primary In Columbus Next Month Goes To Congress-- Let's Make Sure It's The Progressive


(Not the progressive)

As Markos pointed out at Daily Kos yesterday, the Ohio Republican Party is looking like it's going to the bottom of the lake in November. But 'til then, they're still running the show, however badly. When Kasich's legislature ignored all logic and drew new congressional lines to protect their favorites, they also threw a bone to Democrats in Columbus, the biggest city. They created a solidly blue, potentially progressive, bastion for the next 10 years, until the party in control redraws the boundaries. Whomever wins the March 6th primary-- yes, less than a month away-- will be a Member of Congress.

Of course, in the statewide gerrymander conservatives did all they could to protect their BFF and former banking lobbyist, Rep. Steve Stivers. They also tried to keep his nemesis and progressive champion, Mary Jo Kilroy, out of Congress by recruiting a "business friendly" candidate with deep ties to the very special interests that Mary Jo fought throughout her career. Keep in mind, it's because Mary Jo has battled against these special interests, that Blue America originally endorsed her and we were eager to endorse her again this year.

Joyce Beatty, the business community’s hand-picked political shill, just “finished” her $326,000 a year job with Ohio State University (A do-nothing giveaway position that OSU won’t even bother filling after her departure) to run for election in the newly created district. So how does one receive a job that pays $326,000 at a public university, and how can you get one? Well, in 2008 former state Representative and Minority Leader Joyce Beatty used her influence to lobby for a job at Ohio State and instantly almost quadrupled her salary from $75,971 to $320,000. Since Ohio calculates pension rates based on the top three highest salary years, Beatty's pension payment quickly ballooned to a starting payout of $211,200 annually. Her 18 year pension total will balloon to a whopping $4,771,008. BOOM! She must be extremely special to merit such a high rate of compensation in a state where most people struggle to make $25,000 annually without benefits.

I wonder what she did to get that position. Well, this wonderful "business Democrat" voted in favor of the biennial budget, which included an increase in tuition rates. Hey, somebody has to pay for her salary and pension, right? Why not drop it on the backs of Ohio’s youth? The budget specifically allowed Ohio State University to raise tuition 12.9 percent. Ca-ching! According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer “… the $320,000 salary and the timing of [the] job offered to outgoing State Rep. Joyce Beatty [has] people talking. The Columbus Democrat will become OSU's senior vice president for outreach and engagement in January, just after term limits force her out of the legislature.”

Ok, ok, ok. So she jumped at the chance to cash in on a legislative career and appears to be a bit shady. Well, let’s look a little deeper here (just a little) and see what we find. In 2008, Beatty voted for a bill that reduced the annualized interest rate for payday loans from 391 percent to 28 percent. It also prohibited loan terms of less than 31 days and limited borrowers to four loans per year. It also banned online payday lending. Sounds good, right?

Well, kind of. In 2007 prior to supporting the legislation, Beatty urged the Democratic caucus not to support the payday lending bill. This move surprised political insiders including State Sen. Ray Miller and State Rep. Hagen who described Beatty as a roadblock standing in the way of financial reform. Beatty's steadfast opposition to payday lending reform began to waffle after the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an article highlighting her husband's work as a lobbyist for national payday lender CheckSmart. Beatty contends that her husband’s position did not affect her early opposition to the bill, but refused to disclose her husband’s compensation. Her political director also took a position with a payday lending lobbyist while the legislation was still pending!

Now that she is running for Congress, Beatty’s grown even more bold. Without shame, she’s taking money from T.J. Banks. Yes, that T.J. Banks. The guy convicted of ethics violations for taking $3.7 million in no-bid state contracts while providing Republican then-Gov. Voinovich’s Chief-of-staff with a six-figure knock-off on his fiancé’s home remodeling project. The project included a luxurious 1200 sq. ft. two-story addition and brand-new 1400 sq. ft. garage.

When Voinovich’s Chief-of-staff Paul Mifsud learned of the investigation into his fiancé and his not-so-little pet project, he convinced the Union County Clerk of Courts to give him the original construction addition permits. While in his possession, he altered the documents in a blatant attempt to cover up the deal between himself and Banks. Mifsud eventually resigned as Voinovich's Chief-of-Staff and both Banks and Mifsud served jail time.

So… let’s recap. The people of Central Ohio finally get a Democratic district that a true progressive like Mary Jo should represent, but the special interests who she stood up to have hand-picked a yacht-owning (yes, she has a yacht), ethically challenged woman who’s married to a payday lending lobbyist. Are you kidding me?

Ohio needs Mary Jo Kilroy. Our nation needs Mary Jo Kilroy. As a former Congresswoman she supported healthcare reform, Wall St. reform and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She’s the REAL DEAL.

Voters need to ignore Beatty, because the last thing we need in Congress is another Democrat who votes Republican. Mary Jo is a true progressive champion. There are far too few of them among us, and she deserves our strong and unwavering support. Again, if you'd like to help Mary Jo's campaign, you can do it here at our Blue America page

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