Thursday, October 30, 2014



Last Friday the SCPR started this series on campaign finance and the November 4, 2014 election.

As far as The Report is concerned, only the sheriff's race and the the Hartnett/Werren Stark County Court of Common Pleas contest merit an examination of campaign finances.

Working with and analyzing campaign finance reports for state level and state level reporting campaigns (i.e. court of appeals) is "a piece of cake."  

But it is difficult to know who some of the big buck bangers are in local elections.

A couple of years ago the SCPR asked Representative Kirk Schuring to sponsor legislation to require candidates "below the state level" (i.e. filing with county board of elections) accepting donations of $100 or more to list their occupations/vocations/businesses.

Schuring did sponsor such a bill.

 But he proved to be ineffectual in getting such a "minor" adjustment made so that you the voter might have more information as to whom is supporting a given candidate with more money than most of us can afford or care to invest (in the sense of promoting good government) in political campaigns.

If our state legislators really cared about disclosure of campaign finances, they would find a way to require all candidates (state or local level):
  • to file online, 
  • and "on demand" (meaning up-to-date within a day of receiving a donation)
so that you and I can determine whether or not we think a candidate is being "bought and paid for" as the election unfolds.

There are, of course, candidates who are computer illiterate and do not generate enough campaign finances with which to afford hiring someone to keep the report up-to-date on a day-to-day basis as the election cycle progresses.

For the illiterate, "I can't afford to hire somebody types," the Ohio secretary of state office could be charged with the responsibility to determine whether or not an exception should granted to the SCPR's proposed electronic - on demand - electronic filing requirement.

Of course, the very people who have control of providing such legislation do not themselves likely want to make up-to-date information on who is financing their campaigns.

They say that they care about transparency and facilitating Joe and Mary Citizen knowing about who has a financial stake in certain candidacies, but "the proof is in the pudding" of the Legislature doing absolutely nothing to bring campaign finance reporting into the 21st electronic dominated century.

These same folks should not complain as more and more citizens give up on the fairness (i.e. being informed, being heard) of the structures of our democratic republic system, and, in increasing numbers, bail out of the system.

It is a very dangerous game our politicized elected officials are playing in undermining our "best in the world" system of government.

Folks like Schuring (R - Ohio House, 48th District), Oelslager (R - Ohio Senate, 29th District), Hagan (R - Ohio House, 50th District), and Slesnick (D - Ohio House, 49th District) will be to blame should our democratic republican form of government ultimately fails.

George T. Maier does have some "big buck bangers" betting on him to win next Tuesday.

And because of Schuring's failure, the SCPR has had to dig and dig and dig to get information on Maier's "high rollers."

The question we all should be concerned with is what, if anything, "the big buck bangers" have to gain from Maier's election.

For one thing, Stark County's unions, to wit:

 (Note:  East Central's total of $3,800 includes a $2,500 "in-kind" contribution)

While unions in general (except for the Stark County Deputies Association) may not have a whole lot to benefit on from a Maier controlled sheriff's department, it will not be lost on Stark County Democratic Party chieftains that unions - should Maier win - played a very large role in helping the Dems to continue to control the sheriff's office since the Republican Party Berens debacle of 1981 - 1984.

Democrats control government in many different sectors of Stark County-based governments (cities, villages, townships and boards of education) and those who help keep them in power (e.g. unions) can expect to be looked favorably upon (e.g. Plain Township and Canton City's Project Labor Agreement legislation) at, of course, taxpayer expense.

With such a close relationship between unions and Democratic officeholders, one might ask:  who looks out for the taxpayers' interests as "at the cost of taxpayer funds" play into decisions the officeholders make?

On the other side of the things (the entrepreneurial class), it appears that Maier (in a collective sense of entrepreneurs) has done even better.

Just a handful of this category more than match the union contributions, to wit:

Of course, Guy Cicchini, a well-known Stark County McDonald's franchise holder headlines the list with his $3,500 "in-kind" footing the bill for the Maier campaign.

The SCPR has talked with a senior Stark County Democrat who has seen zillions of Democratic Party candidate campaign finance reports and is not familiar with quite of number of the names on the list presented above.

Here is what the SCPR has discovered from the Ohio secretary of state website on a couple of the names:

What's in it for Cicchini, Coram and the DiMichele?

Just good government?

If Maier gets elected, you can be sure that the SCPR will be scrutinizing each and every contract and others "at the cost to the tax" maneuvers he engages in to see whether or not it appears that there might be a connection between those activities and campaign finance contributions.

In The Report's time in the Stark County Democratic Party, many union officials complained how they were not respected by the hierarchy of the party.

And the SCPR's take is that they were and likely to continue to be correct.

Guess who The Report thinks "the chief disrespecters were?

You've got it.

Former chairmen Gonzalez and Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

The Report has heard Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. diss the unions frequently.

AFL-CIO president Dan Sciury got in a big tiff with Gonzalez (openly screaming at him in public)  over his refusal to support a union member for Jackson Township trustee.

And the unions keep coming back for more?

Another category the SCPR fills out in this segment of The Report's analysis of the Maier CFR is contributions from sheriff department employees.

While it is legal to take contributions from employees, the SCPR thinks it is ill-advised from an ethics dimension and is heartened that should Larry Dordea be elected sheriff he has committed to The Report that he will not accept employee contributions.

Still another category to look at is who is benefiting from expenditures made by the Maier campaign in this reporting cycle.

But some providers of political services and products do better than others.

In looking at the above-chart in alphabetical order, note how well K & R Industries did with the Maier campaign.

K & R Industries is run by Kody Gonzalez, son of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez.

Kody has lived a charmed political/public employment life, of late; but, according to Randy, he has not lifted a finger to help him.

Of course, what Randy says might be true.

But the SCPR says:  Who is going to believe it?

There may be another answer that gives Randy's statement "a possibility of" credibility.

When you are the Big Kahuna, people just want to do things to please you.  You haven't asked for a thing.  But people just figure it is a smart thing to do to please a powerful person, no?

He was hired off-the-street (so to speak) by Stark County recorder Rick Campbell back in the mid-2000s because "it was obvious to me," he says, "that Kody had special attributes" (a paraphrase).

It must be true (please don't miss the sarcasm) that Kody is a step above everybody else because "lo and behold!" Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts Phil Giavasis (also Stark County Democratic Party chairman who succeeded Randy as chairman) hired Kody away from Campbell in December, 2013 as chief deputy clerk of courts to replace the retiring Randy.

How about that!

Good thing after good thing after good thing just happens when you have the talent of a Kody Gonzalez, no?

And good things continue to happen with his K & R Industries political paraphernalia business.

For this blog, the SCPR is, of course, dealing with just the Maier campaign.

It will be interesting to see, going through Democratic candidates campaign finance statements for the past couple of years, how Kody is doing overall, no?

The SCPR just might check that out.

At a little over $8,000 for just this CFR cycle in one campaign, it appears Kody is doing quite well.

And we all should know that it is "pure coincidence" that father Randy was George T. Maier's biggest "non-family" booster and that the connection has nothing whatsoever do to with K & R's success with the Maier campaign.

Good things ought to happen to folks who come from a family that, again, according to Randy, views their working for Stark County government and its subdivisions as being a family tradition of public service, no?

As readers of the SCPR have come to expect, The Report now makes available to the general public a list of contributors to Maier's campaign in a concise and organized format.

If you are curious:

  • who contributed cash (most likely in check form), 
  • who contributed in-kind, 
  • who benefited from Maier campaign expenditures, and 
  • which sheriff department employees contributed,
then just go to the spreadsheet which follows and look up your "party of interest" all in alphabetical order.

Presented as a public service to the voting, taxpaying people of Stark County.

LINK to spreadsheet.

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