Friday, September 06, 2002

Deters counters opponent's money views

By Leo Shane III
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — After months of staying mum on the campaign trail, Republican Treasurer Joe Deters came out aggressively Thursday, calling his opponent's ideas risky and reckless.

        Mr. Deters' press conference, his first this year dealing solely with the campaign, comes after months of attacks from Democrat Mary Boyle, who leads the race in statewide polls.

        Since March, Ms. Boyle, a former Cuyahoga County commissioner, has accused Mr. Deters of operating a “pay-to-play” system in the treasurer's office, accepting campaign donations in exchange for consideration for lucrative state contracts. Mr. Deters has denied those charges.

        On Thursday he dissected Ms. Boyle's stated plans to use more aggressive investing tactics if elected, saying the Democrat will compromise the state's financial safety.

        “Safety of funds comes above all other considerations in this office,” Mr. Deters said. “She would take a greater risk with the money. Public fund managers who don't know the difference in those goals get into trouble quickly.”

        The treasurer pointed to Cuyahoga County's 1994 investment disaster, in which officials lost more than $114 million.

        Ms. Boyle served on the county's investment advisory board at the time, though blame for the mismanaged money ultimately fell on the county treasurer. But Mr. Deters said that episode serves as a reminder not to seek out higher earnings at the expense of public funds' safety.

        “And she of all people should have taken lessons from that,” he said.

        Ms. Boyle said Mr. Deters' accusations are unfounded. Looking for improved earnings does not translate into reckless investing, she said, and none of her plans would compromise state funds.

        Mr. Deters is the only Republican statewide candidate trailing in the polls “Outside of Cincinnati nobody knows who I am,” he said. “That's the reality of this job. If I had lost money, they'd probably know my name.”

        Mr. Deters has already bought $1.25 million worth of media time for the coming months, and plans to run commercials highlighting the office's steady, positive investment returns over the past four years.

        Ms. Boyle, meanwhile, likely will not be able to afford television ads. She had $354,000 on hand at the end of August.



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