Well, as you could tell from the title of the Dispatch article I cited in the last post, things eventually started to unravel for Thomas Gunlock and his father Bill and Sabre Systems.  Either by carelessness or arrogance, the Gunlocks made a mistake that led the whole empire of “pay to play” politics unravel.  You see, eventually, the media began to notice the Gunlocks campaign donations and those of Sabre’s employees when something jumped out at them—the donations were made at the same time.

The Dispatch and other outlets began reporting on this and suggestions that the Sabre employees were nothing more than straw donors for Sabre or the Gunlocks began flying throughout Ohio by 1991—just two years after Bill Gunlock left the company to his son, Thomas.  The Franklin County Prosecutor appointed a special prosecutor to convene a grand jury investigation into the relationship between the Franklin County Auditor Palmer McNeal and Sabre Systems in 1992.

You see, McNeal had given Sabre Systems and another company called Woolpert Companies a $17.3 million unbid contract.  In October 1990, employees of those companies made $40,000 in donations to the Franklin County GOP.  The party then, in turn, bought $30,000 in paid television advertisements for McNeal as well as paid for polling and distributing McNeal’s campaign literature.  These employees, who benefited from McNeal’s contract award, made virtually no donation directly to McNeal’s campaign.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, “McNeal Campaign Probe Spawns Subpoena for 15,” (May 2, 1992)]

In a plea deal, McNeal was permitted to resign from office in return for entering a guilty plea to a misdemeanor ethics charge and allowed to complete felony diversion to avoid a conviction on a felony tampering with records charge.  The records McNeal tampered?  Documents that showed Sabre’s former President, Jack Johnson, paid $1,500 of McNeal’s hotel expenses for an 1990 Phoenix convention.  Johnson was granted immunity in return for his testimony in the criminal probe. [Ibid.]

By late May 1992, the Dispatch was reporting that Sabre Systems was a major target of the grand jury probe, particularly whether the company or its executives reimbursed Sabre employees for donations they made to the Franklin County GOP.  [Dispatch, 5/24/92, supra.]  By this time, McNeal had been granted immunity for his testimony to the grand jury as well.  Two other Sabre employees besides Johnson had also been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against Sabre.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, “2 Get immunity for Grand Jury Testimony” (May 13, 1993)]

So by late May 1992, the Gunlocks were facing the possible grand jury testimony of three key employees and the former Franklin County Auditor who had agreed to testify in exchange for immunity in a criminal as to whether Sabre Systems and the Gunlocks had conspired to violate campaign finance laws by using straw donors and conspiring to hide the intended beneficiary of their bundled donations when Bill and Thomas Gunlock were subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury that was targeting them.

“William Gunlock, founder and former president of the company—reportedly refused to answer questions—citing his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.”—Columbus Dispatch, May 24, 1992

Bill Gunlock would be indicted by June 1992 and pled no contest to three counts of campaign finance violations in early 1993.  He was fined $30,000. [Source: State v. William L. Gunlock, Frankl’n Cnty. C.P. Case 92-CR-003016.]

Thomas Gunlock was never criminally charged related to Sabre Systems, despite being a prominent executive in the company.

Bill Gunlock continued to make political donations to Republicans.  He and his wife donated $7,000 to Bob Taft’s campaign from late 2001 through 2002.  Taft would appoint Thomas Gunlock, who had become active in several board of charter schools, to an advisory council of his Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and then to an unexpired term of the Ohio Board of Education in July 2006.  The media never noted Bill Gunlock’s donations, or either his or Thomas Gunlock’s role in Sabre Systems when Taft made these appointments.

Yep, while Tom Gunlock didn’t make donations to Kasich before getting the appointment, that’s just a continuation of the pattern called the Gunlock Way.  Get your surrogates to step up their campaign donations to the public official who can make the favorable decision you want instead and it’s harder to detect.

And that is John Kasich’s “New Way, New Day” of doing things?

New Day Stupid Way

See Part One: Tom Gunlock’s family history of “pay to play,” Pt. 1: Sabre’s Golden Years

 
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  • Tim M

    This is some great reporting. I’m beginning to think that those of us who have cancelled our subscriptions to the worthless dailies in Ohio (Columbus Dispatch, Plain Dealer), should take that money and give a reoccuring donation to blogs like this. $10.00, $20.00 a month would be less than a newspaper subscription and hopefully it would enhance this kind of reporting. The newspapers aren’t doing their job. We should support the ones who are. If Plunderbund puts up a donation link on their site, I’m in for $10.00 a month. Hopefully others would do the same.

  • We found donation links in the past didn’t work out too well, but we’re certainly up for rethinking it. We’re exploring several opportunities for revenue generation to keep doing what we’re doing. Thanks!

  • Tim M

    I think at the beginning you guys hadn’t proven your worth. You definitley have now. Think about how many stories you all have broken in the last few weeks. How much more in the dark would we (and that’s all of Ohio in general), be without your reporting. Those on the left really need to think about this. We’re not getting a fair shake in the media. Like I said I’m in for $10.00 at least. I hope others would consider this and follow suit.

  • Thanks Tim. You’ve definitely given us the impetus to think about this. Letting our most avid readers support us financially is something we should do.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, Tim, thank you. I can’t even begin to tell you how much your comment meant to me.

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  • Just Curious

    Do you know what charter schools Gunlock the Elder served on?

  • Anonymous

    All I could find was that THOMAS Gunlock served on the boards of Dayton-area charter schools. They are not related to White Hat Management as far as I can tell. But unfortunately that’s the limited knowledge my research has uncovered.

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