Justin Elliott is out with a story in ProPublica detailing the connections of a shady outside group called the “Government Integrity Fund” (these groups always seem to have Orwellian names) that is funding attack ads against Sherrod Brown. The group has the domain name registration anonymity covered, registering via DomainsByProxy. The only clues to who was involved until recently was the articles of incorporation which list a William M. Todd as Secretary and Statutory Agent.
Where do we know that name from?
Oh, yeah! Our buddy Bill Todd!
Todd claims no involvement in the group that started running anti-Brown ads back in May.
Thanks to a recent FCC rule requiring TV stations to keep detailed records about political advertising, ProPublica was able to uncover others involved in the shady group. Documents filed with Hearst Television Inc (NBC affiliate WLWT) list Tom Norris as Chairman and Treasurer of Government Integrity Fund.
Tom Norris owns Cap Square Solutions, a Columbus lobbying firm that incidentally hired a top mandel aide Joel Riter.
According to Justin at ProPublica, nobody really wants to talk about it:
Riter’s role in the Government Integrity Fund, if any, is not clear. The former Mandel aide declined to say whether he is involved with the group that is chaired by his current boss and running ads in support of his former boss.
“I can’t talk to you about this,” he told ProPublica. “I’m not going to comment on any kind of involvement I have with anyone.”
Norris did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the Mandel campaign.
Oddly enough, the ad buys appear to only have been targeted at those 35 and older. You’d think young Josh would get more support among his peers…but I digress.
Joel Riter is one of those kids who Josh Mandel hooked up with phat jobs after working on his campaign. In March, a Dayton Daily News investigation included Riter as one of Josh’s buddies who benefited from cronyism and potentially committed ethics violations by lobbying the Treasurer of State on behalf of a client:
Joel Riter, 27, earned $13.95 an hour as a legislative aide in 2007-2009, and then was paid $27,500 by the Mandel treasurer campaign in 2010.
He was paid $62,000 annually in the treasurer’s office, but left the job after six months to join the lobbying firm Cap Square Solutions. At Cap Square he lobbies the executive branch, including the treasurer’s office, on behalf of Charles Jordan & Co., according to state records.
Under state law, Riter would be prohibited from doing business with his previous office for a year. Mandel’s office said it does not currently do business with Charles Jordan & Co.
From $14/hr to $30/hr in the short span of 4 years. That’s good work if you can get it. Who knows what he cashed in his Josh Job for at the lobbyist firm doing business with your old boss. It definitely smells of ethics violations. Indeed State Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) submitted a request to the Ohio Ethics Commission in April asking for an investigation.
The Government Integrity Fund certainly isn’t the biggest of the shadowy groups trying to win an election with an unqualified candidate through sheer force of money, but it’s telling when all the pieces of the puzzle start to fall in place on who these people are and how they operate. They only have 3 total videos on their YouTube page and it’s unclear if any current ads are running that they’ve funded.
The address listed in documents for Government Integrity Fund (208 East State Street) seems to be a hotbed of wingnutia. Riter also has an office there as does Pierce Communications, a communications shop listing Ken Blackwell as a client.
If it weren’t clear before, it should be now. Josh Mandel is the worst kind of politician and given even more power and responsibility would use it to enrich his friends and corrupt his office. To be this corrupt at this young an age should worry everyone casting a ballot for Senate in Ohio in 2012.
The guy is bad news.