In the heat of the moment, with tempers flaring and anger unchecked, people can often reveal things they wouldn’t otherwise say out loud. Recent comments from Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine appear to provide a perfect example.
With the well-known rift between DeWine and John Kasich continuing to get nastier and more public by the day, and with more and more pressure on DeWine coming from Kasich, Batchelder and their newly-rich lobbyist friends, the ORP chairman finally came forward on Friday and admitted something Plunderbund has been saying since John first expressed interest in running for Governor: Kasich and his pals do not have the best interests of the state or even of their own party in mind. Instead they are simply “motivated by ego, power, [and] profit.”
As Hallet and Vardon of the Dispatch wrote:
Allies of DeWine say the bid to unseat him is being led by four of Kasich’s most-trusted confidants: lobbyists Donald G. Thibaut, Robert F. Klaffky and Douglas J. Preisse, and the governor’s special assistant, Jai Chabria. They say the effort is spearheaded from the lobbying offices of Klaffky and Preisse. Klaffky is a member of both Kasich’s and Batchelder’s inner circles, and Preisse is chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party.
DeWine’s allies contend that the attempted coup d’etat is motivated by power and money and that the lobbyists allegedly behind it view controlling the party as crucial to their long-term influence on Capitol Square. DeWine did not disagree.
For those who haven’t been following Plunderbund (and even for those who need a little refresher) allow me to provide some background for Chairman DeWine’s accusations.
Kasich came into power with a plan: privatize everything in the state and enrich as many of his friends as possible in the process. Thibaut and Klaffky, Kasich’s long time friends, have not only helped facilitate the process at every turn, but have also been the biggest beneficiaries.
Don Thibaut and Kasich have been friends for decades. Don spent nearly 20 years as Kasich’s chief-of-staff and occasional roommate when Kasich was in Congress.
When Kasich left congress he help set up multiple political funds under the “New Century Project” moniker that paid Thibaut and other former aides $500,000 each for three years of work.
When Kasich later got a part time job making $50K/yr to work 1 hour a month giving lectures to OSU students, Thibaut was included in the contract, making $20K/year from OSU as Kasich’s “aide”.
So when Kasich decided to run for Governor, Thibaut knew he could take advantage of his friendship with Kasich to rake in the big bucks. Back in March of 2010 Don registered his new lobbying firm, the Credo Company, with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. He quickly put up an “About Us” page highlighting his very personal and long-term relationship with John Kasich.
Despite the fact that Kasich claimed he wanted to “get the lobbyists and the special interests snouts out of the trough”, upon taking office he made it clear to everyone who wanted to do business with that state that they needed to hire one of his friends as lobbyists or they’d be out of luck.
Kasich has spent the past year proving just how good life can be for people who take his advice.
When Ohio recently sold off a prison to a private operator, the contract went to CCA – one of Thibaut’s clients.
When Kasich made plans to privatize the lottery, he made sure his two best friends got lobbying contracts with the two biggest players. Thibaut got GTECH – the company that actually wrote the original, severely-flawed lottery privatization language that would have exempted them from state taxes.
The other lobbying contract, for Intralot, went to Kasich’s other long-time friend Robert Klaffky. While we don’t have specific numbers, it’s fair to say the lobbyists for this deal – which is still potentially in the works – are pulling down tons of cash on both sides.
While Klaffky and Thibaut may have taken opposite sides on the lottery privatization deal, there are a number of cases where companies just went ahead and hired both of them.
When Kasich decided to speak at a High School graduation ceremony earlier this year, he chose ECOT – the huge online school that performs worse than the Cleveland School District but costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The money goes directly to two companies: Altair Learning Management and IQ Innovations, LLC. Both operated by huge Republican donor William Lager. And both represented by Klaffky and Thibaut.
I know it seems impossible, but ego, profit and power plays involving long-time Kasich friend Bob Klaffky may even be worse than those with Thibaut.
Klaffky was a staffer in the Ohio Senate back when Kasich was a state senator. And he was a lobbyists for Lehman Brothers, the same company Kasich and Chabria worked for.
Klaffky was personally responsible for writing and defending Kasich’s JobsOhio legislation that privatizes state development activities, giving away hundreds of millions in liquor profits to a private entity that is specifically excluded from state ethics and transparency laws.
Kasich has used Klaffky to intimidate other lobbyists who might consider doing anything supportive of Democrats.
And Kasich’s delays in finalizing deals with Ohio’s new casino operators has directly benefited Klaffky’s out-of-state casino operators – making Klaffky a load of cash, while potentially costing the state millions in lost casino revenue.
As The Dispatch points out, Kasich has now chosen Klaffky’s lobbying firm to lead the charge against DeWine. The firm is also home to Doug Preisse, likely Kasich’s hand-picked replacement for DeWine. Kasich is even sending some of his staffers over to the firm to help with the their campaign.
Despite what you might hear coming from Batchelder or other Kasich-aligned Republicans in Ohio, this is not an ideological battle. Kasich’s goal of unseating DeWine is based on pure, selfish, unadulterated greed, not on some difference of opinion over same-sex marriage rights or Tea Party activism.
While I typically enjoy watching Republican party infighting, and I generally tend not to take sides, in this case it’s hard not to.
We’ve already lost control of the Governor’s Office and the leadership of the State Legislature to Kasich’s lobbyist friends, and they’re now actively trying to complete their total consolidation of power by taking control of the Ohio Republican Party, removing the guy who led them to a complete sweep of all statewide offices and the Legislature, all so they can make more money at the expense of Ohio and its citizens.
DeWine has said: “I refuse to let this party be overtaken by lobbyists.” We sincerely hope you’re right, Mr. Chairman.