Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Top Taft aide leaves to boost GOP

Ohio Senate drives await Borgemenke

Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — One of Gov. Bob Taft's top aides is leaving to help Republicans maintain control of the Ohio Senate in next year's elections.

        Scott Borgemenke, a 34-year-old Anderson Township native, has worn a number of political hats during the past four years, most recently as Mr. Taft's director of Cabinet affairs and chief policy adviser.

        Mr. Borgemenke, who was paid $108,160 a year, is expected to work as a consultant defending 14 of the 21 Senate seats controlled by Republicans in the 33-member chamber.

        It's a job he knows well. He previously served nearly three years as chief of staff to former Senate President Stanley Aronoff, R-Cincinnati.

        “I'm looking to do some corporate consulting as well,” said Mr. Borgemenke, who is scheduled to leave the governor's office Dec. 31.

        Shortly before Mr. Taft took office in January, the Cincinnati native lured Mr. Borgemenke away from a job as vice president of NSC Consulting, a lobbying firm owned by another former Senate staffer, Neil Clark.

        Before that, he worked briefly as a lobbyist for Cinergy Corp. and served for two years as executive director of the Cincinnati Business Committee, which aims to improve public schools and encourage downtown development.

        At the governor's office, Mr. Borgemenke has shared duties with Brian Hicks, Mr. Taft's chief of staff. Both men report directly to the governor.

        Mr. Hicks runs the office and oversees political appointments. Mr. Borgemenke has helped shape policy and shepherd the governor's agenda through the General Assembly.

        “The job was crafted with Scott in mind,” Mr. Hicks said. “For the time being, at least, I will have to handle all the duties.”

        Both men denied suggestions that Mr. Borgemenke is leaving as a result of a power struggle. “I don't know where that's coming from, because I've never had a problem with the guy,” Mr. Hicks said.

        Ohio's ethics law will prevent Mr. Borgemenke from lobbying his former colleagues for one year. By leaving now, he puts himself in a position to become a lobbyist as the next two-year budget cycle begins in 2001.

        Mr. Borgemenke agreed to work for Mr. Taft for at least a year. During his tenure, he played a major role in defending the governor's first two-year state budget and in working out deals on electric utility deregulation and the state's $10.1 billion settlement with tobacco companies.

        “I'm sorry to see Scott leave, but I greatly appreciate his advice, dedication and leadership throughout the first year of our administration,” Mr. Taft said in a statement.

        Senate President Richard Finan, R-Evendale, said Mr. Borgemenke will rejoin a team that helped defend the Republican majority in the 1996 elections.

        “He will be a great boost to our efforts,” Mr. Finan said.


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