Our latest foray into the Lake County politics started when we attended a Commissioners meeting and Commissioner Cirino introduced a resolution prohibiting Commissioners from accepting campaign contributions from employees that are under the direction of the Commissioners.
Cirino resolution on campaign contributions
Although not illegal, Cirino believes that it is bad management. Lobbyists For Citizens also believes that it may create undue pressure on employees to contribute, and creates a perception of impropriety by Commissioners. The resolution ‘died’, and was not even voted on by the Commissioners because Commissioners Troy and Hamercheck would not, for reasons known only to them, provide a 2nd vote to enable the resolution to be discussed and ultimately voted on. That peaked our interest to see where this may lead us.
We decided to first reach out to Commissioner Troy to ask him some questions on the subject of campaign contributions. Here are the questions we sent to him via email:
1. Although it is not illegal, why do you feel the need to accept campaign contributions from employees that work directly under your supervision?
2. Are you concerned about the perception of any impropriety of accepting campaign contributions, while you are voting on whether employees should receive a pay increase, or perhaps even subject to the “retire and rehire” policy that we have seen recently taking place in the County?
To Commissioner Troy’s credit he did not ignore our questions, and provided the following responses to the questions:
“As for your question on campaign contributions, campaign finance laws and regulations are spelled out and governed in Section 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code.
> This section is overseen and enforced by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and Ohio’s County Boards of Elections. There is no statutory authority granted to County Boards of Commissioners to alter, amend or modify those laws and regulations.
> I have always been in compliance with these statutes and regulations. This compliance includes no direct solicitation of employees, and a dutiful reporting on a separate state prescribed form listing any contributions from any individual under the candidate’s direct employ. I go over my reports meticulously with my campaign treasurer ( a long time Lake County municipal finance director) to identify any and all employees that have purchased a ticket to my annual Mardi Gras event to insure that they are properly listed on this separate form to insure the greatest degree of transparency.
> It is the First Amendment right of any individual to so contribute, and it is certainly their same right not to contribute. There are no quid pro quos for either choice, and I am insulted and offended by any insinuation that there is.
> Again, I have always followed the laws and regulations of campaign finance, and I will continue to do so.
> – Commissioner Daniel Troy
We then decided to follow the old adage – follow the money. We requested and received from the ever helpful staff, ( a big thank you to Tom Seymour) very capably led by Ross McDonald and Jan Clair, at the Lake County Board of Elections all of the Ohio Campaign Finance Reports for Commissioners Troy, Cirino and Hamercheck.
To minimize the length of this article, we will provide ALL of the reports for all three Commissioners provided to us on another post.
If you have never seen a Campaign Finance Report before, here is an example of a summary page:
Campaign Finance Report Summary Page
The supporting documents behind the cover page provide extensive details on who contributed what to the particular political committee and where the money was spent. Here is an example of a complete campaign report: 2005 Dan TROY
After receiving the 35 campaign reports for the years 2005 – 2018, we wanted to determine how many employees contributed to Commissioner Troy and the total amount they contributed. In addition, we wondered how much money does it take to remain in public office for the last 14 years.
Our research shows that 100 employees donated $33,120.00 to Commissioner Troy’s campaign. We have elected not to report the individual employee contributions.
To answer the second question, we had to first analyze all of the summary pages from 2005 – 2018. Here are the detailed results: Summary of Troy’s Campaign Finance Reports
To finally answer the question of how much money does it take to remain in public office for the last 14 years, we put together this summary from the individual finance reports: Summary of Troy’s Contributions and Expenditures
So the answer to our question is $687,516.93. [$650,505,69 + $37,011.24] That is an average of $49,108 per year. [$687,516.93 / 14] Keep in mind 2018 is not yet finished, and we understand the the campaign “fundies” have been in full swing, but the results will not be available until after the November election.
When we were analyzing the reports we noticed a gap in the year 2012. We were told that Commissioner Troy had decided to run for State Representative and the reports for 2012 were in the hands of the State of Ohio elections board. We received those reports, but that only led to more questions.
- Why was their a $42,618.91 donation made to the Lake County Governance Education Fund? [We are unaware of this fund, and will ask more questions to fully understand their mission.] It appears Mr. Troy may have made a miscalculation, and had to adjust his campaign coffers.
Donation to Education Fund
- Answer: Ohio Revised Code section 3517.102 permits a “carry-in” limit for a house candidate of $35,000. So Commissioner Troy, trying to become State Representative Troy, had to unload some cash. He could have returned the money to his contributors, but opted to donate the money.
Permissive Fund Report info
The 2012 information gap also prompted us to dig a little deeper into this mystery. Here is a copy of an August 10, 2012 article by the News-Herald detailing what happened: News-Herald article 8-10-12
Well, that is what happened publicly, but why did Commissioner Troy decide not to run? (We are working on that answer for you.) We can state that the Democrat Central Committee selected John Rogers and Troy donated $10,100.00 to the “Friends of Rogers”, a committee formed to help Mr. Rogers campaign for State Representative.
Friends of Rogers donation
- As we continue our research into local politics, we have observed that there seems to be a perpetual, permanent class of politicians. They just keep moving around like pieces in a game of chess, wielding the power that money brings to them.
We will publish one more article on Commissioner Troy tomorrow dealing with his appointments to the Board of Revisions.