The race for Cincinnati’s school board is supposed to be non-partisan. But that hasn’t stopped area Democrats from endorsing candidates or some Republicans from spending money on the race.

There are nine candidates running for four seats on the school board this year.  The list includes Melanie Bates, Ericka Copeland-Dansby, Marcia Futel, Daniel Minera, Victoria Straughn, Martha Good, Elisa Hoffman, Sally O’Callaghan and Betsy Shank.   The Enquirer has profiles of each of the candidates, with links to their websites, available here.

The Hamilton County Democratic Party has endorsed four of the candidates: Bates, Futel, Shank and Minera.  Other candidates including Copeland-Dansby, Good, Hoffman and  O’Callaghan  have received support or endorsements from progressive groups like Equality Cincinnati and the Green Party of Southwest Ohio.

The Hamilton County Republican Party has not officially endorsed any of the candidates however a group with Republican ties named the Brighter Future Fund has raised nearly eighty thousand dollars from traditionally Republican donors in the Cincinnati area.  It is now spending the bulk of that money on television ads for two of the candidates,  and on small campaign contributions  for some others.

According to FCC filings, the group appears to be organized and operated by Kathryn T. Metz, a former campaign and congressional office staffer for Republican Congressman Steve Chabot. According to Ohio Secretary of State records, Metz also appears to have been a fundraiser for Republican Mike Wilson, the founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party who twice ran unsuccessfully against State Rep Connie Pillich.

Campaign finance reports for the Bright Future Fund list Metz as the group’s treasurer. The address associated with the fund, 632 Vine Street in Cincinnati, is also the address of Metz’s employer, the Fountain Square Group, a political consulting and fundraising company. Metz is the company’s director of fundraising.

Campaign finance reports for the Bright Future Fund show it received $78,850 in contributions from 57 individuals and groups, including some of the biggest Republican donors in Cincinnati.

For example, Robert Castellini, president of Castellini Management Group, gave the Bright Future Fund $3,000. During the last election cycle, Castellini gave Kasich’s campaign over $25,000.

Craig Maier, the CEO of Frisch’s and also a big Kasich donor, gave the group $3,500. And Scott Farmer, CEO of Cintas, gave $6,000 to the group. Two years ago Farmer gave Kasich over $16,000.

Expenditure data on the same campaign finance report shows the Fountain Square Group was paid $2,500 for “Political Consulting”.   Two small contributions of $500 each were made to the campaigns of Bates and Futel.  And two larger contributions of $2,345 and $2,500 were made to the campaigns of Hoffman and Copeland-Dansby.

According to documents filed with the FCC, Metz wrote a check to WCPO in Cincinnati for $17,334.05 on behalf of the Brighter Future fund in order to run television ads supporting the campaigns of Hoffman and Copeland-Dansby on the days leading up to the election.

It’s unclear why Republican operatives are using Republican dollars to run ads supporting Democrats running in a race against other Democrats.   But as one long-time participant in Cincinnati politics told me “the whole election has been weird”.

It’s hard not to agree.

  • MrsKrause

    At least in the case of Hoffman, it does not seem weird to me. She has worked as a Teach For America recruiter. TFA recruits new college graduates from fields other than education, trains them for five weeks, and hires them at schools for a cut rate salary and no union protection. That explains to me why these rich republicans want her on the school board.

  • midwestfarmersdaughter

    We have a couple of TFA grads placed at my high school and as a fellow educator, all I can say is they are not up to the job, cannot pull their own weight, contribute little and have few real classroom duties. as classroom management is non-existent…but they look cute.

  • Katietoo

    TFA is part of the grand scheme of the corporate DEformers. They can bust the union and pay very small wages for these non-educators to Teach For Awhile. It is a sham. They are now infiltrating Boards of Ed around the country as well as state departments of Ed and the national Department of Ed. Often their campaigns are financed by out of towners who are part of the bigger plan. I hate to say it, as a once proud democrat, but both parties are complicit in this anti-public Ed agenda.
    Cincinnati has been asleep on this one!!!!

  • Katietoo
  • Katietoo
  • Katietoo
  • Katietoo
  • Gene

    One can be sure that if there is political party support for certain candidates, it’s because of a special political agenda or the political parties just want to get as many of their party in power as possible to protect their agenda if they need to put pressure on a special politican or make the appointee repay the favor for the party’s support.

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