Thursday, September 28, 2000

Butler to cover official's giveaways

But auditor calls them campaign-related

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County Auditor Kay Rogers says she'd like to toss away the county prosecutor's $1,800 bill for balloons and Frisbee-type toys.

        But Ms. Rogers on Wednesday said the county must pay for the items because Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer, her office's legal adviser, says so.

        Ms. Rogers, in a news release, called the items “campaign paraphernalia” for Mr. Gattermeyer, who was appointed to his post in August and is running for election.

        Two weeks ago, Ms. Rogers asked Mr. Gattermeyer to justify the expenditures after a resident complained about the items being handed out by people wearing political T-shirts at the West Chester Family Fun Fest. The balloons and plastic discs, which were also handed out at Hamilton's DamFest, bear Mr. Gattermeyer's name and phone numbers.

        Under the circumstances, Ms. Rogers said, the toys were “obviously his political campaign- oriented material.”

        Mr. Gattermeyer, in a response dated Monday, said the items were “nonpolitical” and the expenditures of public funds — from a federal victims' rights grant — would be appropriate.

        The balloons and discs were redesigned versions of those that his predecessor, the late John F. Holcomb, used.

        The prosecutor's balloons and discs “were handed out in an effort to notify the public of the Victim/Witness program .... Therefore, the invoices in question are appropriate as they publicize this very important program,” said Mr. Gattermeyer.


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