Within days of news developing that Treasure Josh Mandel hired young and inexperienced campaign staffers to fill top-ranking positions in the Treasurer’s office, new information has come to light that Mandel sent his top debt management director to a beginner’s course on the topic in early 2011.
Huffington Post reported yesterday that Joe Aquilino, 26-years –old at the time, attended a seminar on the fundamentals of municipal bond law in April of 2011 at the National Association of Bond Lawyers conference. He attended as Ohio’s director of debt management.
Historically, Ohio’s debt management director works with the state’s investment underwriters and develops plans to issue new bonds. It is highly technical work that requires years of experience if one wants to do the job properly.
Huffington Post spoke with Wilson White, one of the nation’s leading experts in the municipal bond field. This is how he described his start in the field and is troubling feelings about Mr. Aquilino’s experience.
“I was brought up in bonds. I was jammed with bond knowledge by the age of 26, but I can’t imagine myself accepting such a position.”
“Just let me say to be a director of finance of a major state at 26 is highly unusual,” White said. “I know of no parallel example that I’ve come across in all my 60 years of municipal bond experience. I just find it hard to believe.”
So what sort of credentials did Mr. Aquilino have to be named debt management director for the State of Ohio at the age of 26? Oh, you know, none. Except for the fact that he had been political director on the Josh Mandel Treasurer campaign in 2010.
In Mr. Aquilino’s defense, he is did receive his license to practice law in Ohio a full six days after Mandel won election. So he is a licensed attorney in Ohio, as the Mandel campaign would like everyone to remember, but this fact does not impress Mr. White. It did not change Mr. White’s opinion that Mr. Aquilino was wholly unqualified to fill such a high-ranking position.
“I say this as general rule rather than an accusation because I don’t know this guy; he may be the Einstein of bonds, but I find that extremely hard if not impossible to believe,” White said.
As we have covered this week, Mandel has come under fire for hiring multiple campaign staffers to fill high-ranking positions within his administration. These facts are especially surprising considering how much time Mandel spent attacking former Treasurer Kevin Boyce for hiring friends to fill positions in his office.
Of course, what are facts to Josh Mandel except pesky things that get in the way of the truth. Mandel this week is still continuing to say that the he did nothing wrong and that his office is full of ‘qualified financial professionals.’
Politifact – I think I found your next pants on fire statement. You can thank me later.