Saturday, June 01, 2002

Democrats ask for probe of Deters' campaign funding

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Democrats Friday called for an investigation into the campaign finances of Treasurer Joe Deters and promised to offer new legislation on campaign contributions.

        The Plain Dealer reported Friday that Mr. Deters arranged for Ohio investment work to go to a Pennsylvania company that splits its fees with a business owned by two donors to Ohio Republicans.

        Mr. Deters, a Hamilton County Republican, is running for re-election in November against Mary Boyle, a former state lawmaker.

        The Plain Dealer reported Friday that Richard Ireland and Brian McElwee are the sole donors to the Concerned Citizens Political Action Committee, based in Valley Forge, Pa.

        According to the report, $58,000 of the $371,500 the two gave the committee since 2000 found its way to the Hamilton County GOP and to other Ohio Republican accounts that have supported Mr. Deters' campaign.

        The two are also linked to an investment firm that has received a significant amount of business from Ohio during Mr. Deters' tenure, the paper reported.

        Democratic state Sen. Eric Fingerhut said Friday that he will meet with Ms. Boyle to draft legislation to create a greater separation between the political and professional obligations of the treasurer's office.

        “There's obviously an awful lot of "pay-to-play' in the system,” Mr. Fingerhut said. “We ought to be able to build in more safeguards.”

        Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the Deters campaign, said Democrats are simply trying to distract voters from the fact that Mr. Deters is better qualified.

        “Our campaign has followed Ohio campaign finance laws at all times,” Ms. Peterson said. “Until there is public financing of campaigns, people will have to solicit contributions from individuals.”

        The Pennsylvania political action committee's first Ohio donation arrived in December 2000, as Mr. Deters' office was putting together terms for selecting companies with which to invest the state's $358 million tobacco settlement.

        More than $42 million of Ohio's money eventually went to Valley Forge Asset Management Corp., which occupies the same office building and shares a post office box with the PAC, the Plain Dealer reported.

        According to a disclosure form filed with Mr. Deters' office, half the fees the state pays Valley Forge Asset Management go to its marketing consultant, VFIM Corp. — a company owned by Mr. Ireland and Mr. McElwee. The fees total an estimated $211,000.


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