After Kasich came forward yesterday asking for a deal on SB5, I was contacted by a friend of the blog who wanted to share some information about Chan Cochran – the Republican political operative who has been peddling misinformation about Kasich’s outreach to labor.
We’ve mentioned Cochran a few times recently, but he really deserves a little more detailed and personal coverage and our friend, a long-time political observer who requested anonymity out of fear of the Kasich bus, agreed to write up a guest post for us on the topic. Enjoy…
The motive of Gov. Kasich is clear: The content of Senate Bill 5 and process used to pass it threaten his party’s future in the Great Swing State of Ohio.
What could use a little sunshine is the motives of some of the consultants seeking to trumpet this yet-to-be-defined back-room deal on Senate Bill 5.
Let’s begin with consultant Chan Cochran:
Chan went from Columbus Dispatch reporter to press secretary for Gov. James Rhodes decades ago. During the Rhodes years, Cochran Communications did well. During the Taft years, it did even better. A feud between lobbyist Neil Clark’s shop and The Success Group helped Chan emerge as the “safe” consultant.
When Democrat Ted Strickland came into office, Cochran irritated his long-standing manufacturing clients by going to work for FirstEnergy during the two-year legislative fight over a proposal to prevent electric companies from gouging customers. Major manufacturers, hospitals, farmers and even homeless advocates were on one side. The greedy utilities were on the other. It marked the first time in decades that the powerful, prolific donors from the utilities failed to get their way. In other words, Chan picked the losing team, lost business and eventually saw the bulk of his staff defect to Fahlgren Communications.
Suddenly, Jim Rhodes’ flack had few clients and fewer staff. As the Strickland/Kasich campaign heated up, Cochran began recruiting people by telling them that he a long list of state agency clients during the Taft administration – just below the $50,000 limit required for competitive bidding – and he expected to get the same sweetheart deals under Kasich.
One of Taft’s final gifts to Cochran was a contract to write a full-color, glossy publication released as Taft left office. The price: $49,480. No competitive bidding required.
According to an AP report on the book:
It displays the governor’s whimsy: riding a bike, looking out over Lake Erie and reading to kids. It shows off his compassion: to babies, seniors, hard-hatted workers and lab-coated scientists.
The publication avoids mention, however, of Taft’s no contest plea to four counts of ethics law violations in 2005 for failure to report golf outings and other gifts on required financial filings, one of the administration’s more notable moments. It also skips Taft’s dip to No. 50 among governors in popularity polls late in his tenure.
Today, Cochran is getting new state contracts and peddling misinformation about Kasich’s outreach to labor.
The Kasich propaganda machine, the Columbus Dispatch, has identified Cochran and former Speaker Jo Ann Davidson among those who “met at least twice in June’’ with labor leaders “to discuss a possible deal.” Other journalists said he pitched the story to them – with no success – because there was no “deal” offered. Once the Dispatch reported the six-week old secret talks, Kasich and the legislative leaders launched yesterday’s press conference but did not have the courtesy to notify the We Are Ohio campaign in advance.
If Kasich really wanted a deal – and not just a headline – the group fighting to repeal SB 5 should not have learned about this still undefined “deal” from the media. At the very least, its leaders deserved a courtesy call.
But this administration is not known for common courtesy. It is known for threats, name calling, and flat out lies.
In calling for this yet-to-be-defined “deal,” Kasich and his pals expressed fear that the SB 5 referendum – Issue 2 on the ballot – would tear Ohio apart. No, they insisted. This half-hearted olive branch has nothing to do with polls showing it would go down to defeat or the realization that Ohio’s law is even more extreme than the one in Wisconsin. At least Wisconsin opted NOT to assault firefighters and cops.
But Cochran showed his true feelings in May when he wrote to long-time political commentator Bert de Souza at the Youngstown Vindicator. The way I read Cochran’s comments, SB 5 is retribution for the Democrats’ who voted to allow public servants to bargain collectively back in 1983.
You be the judge:
You commented on the GOP juggernaut in Columbus, and the effect its “corporatization” will have on the Senate Bill 5 referendum this fall. It might complete the picture for your readers if you were to provide them with the information that the Public Employee Collective Bargaining bill that SB5 reforms was passed by a Democrat juggernaut in 1983 without a single Republican vote, and signed by Democratic Gov. Richard F. Celeste.
Cochran is correct: Back in 1983, Democrats had the governor’s office and control of both legislative chambers. Today, it is Republicans in control. But Ohio history shows that one-party rule often leads to arrogance and abuses of power – then the other party makes a comeback.
Ohio has never seen a more arrogant governor than John Kasich, and he showed his affinity for power grabs on day one when he threatened to run over critics with a bus.