Exhibit F: It Starts at the Top

Friends –

Pay to play is a culture established at the top.

The political leader at the top of the organization has a choice: he or she can set a tone and create a system where decisions on who gets lucrative government contracts will be based on the merits, or will be based on who is contributing funds to his political campaign.  And the entire organization will follow that lead.

Unfortunately, over the past three years, the Attorney General’s Office has become dominated by a culture of pay to play. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Attorney General himself is directly involved in setting the tone that those who contribute to his campaign are also the ones that benefit from his public office. But even more than setting the tone, years of public documents show that Attorney General DeWine is often the one setting up the actual meetings and sending the emails where his best donors and fundraisers benefit.

So while there may be no paper trail of decisions based on the merits, there is a clear paper trail of the Attorney General setting up opportunities for his donors…

Example 1: Setting CELCO Up for Success

The most blatant example of the Attorney General’s “pay to play” operation involves the rigged bid that led to the selection of CELCO, a company founded by a generous DeWine and party donor only two days prior to the bid. How did CELCO get in the door to prepare to win this bid? It turns out, Mike DeWine set up the meeting himself:

Email Image

Pete Spitalieri, referred to in DeWine’s email, is the generous donor that went on to found CELCO and secure work through a rigged bid process. According to the Dayton Daily News, Spitalieri met with DeWine several more times before creating his company just in the nick of time, and then beat out much more experienced and qualified competition.

Example 2: Helping a Friend at a New Firm

A prosecutor friend and supporter notified DeWine that he would soon be joining a private law firm. AG DeWine quickly instructed his staff to be prepared for this move:

Email Image

Donations from that friend, as well as many members of that firm, would flow generously over the next year.  For those details, click here.

Example 3: Ensuring a Supporter Gets Their Bid in On Time

In an exchange of emails on October 5, 2011, the AG’s “Director of Outside Counsel” Michael Hall and DeWine exchanged emails regarding Summit County Republican Party Chair Alex Arshinkoff, who is a lobbyist and major donor to DeWine.

  • Hall expresses concerned that a firm “Alex” represents has not yet had a chance to “pitch” its case to be claims administrator to handle a major settlement. “He has been unable to get his team together to meet with us.” Hall implores the AG: “we need to move very fast now…you may want to give him a call to impress on him the need to move fast. We need to talk to his people tomorrow!”
  • DeWine did not miss a beat. Within two hours, he responded: “I just talked to him.  He is on it.”
Email Image
  • The Summit County Republican Party, which Arshinkoff chairs, has given DeWine more than $400,000.

Example 4: Helping an Old Colleague

Bill McCollum and Mike DeWine were colleagues in Congress. On June 2, 2011, McCollum joined a law firm to lead that firm’s “state attorneys general practice”.

On 11/17/2011, McCollum contributed $500 to Mike DeWine

On January 31, 2012, DeWine sent the following email to Michael Hall: “Former atty gen bill McCollum called.  Please call him…leave your phone. Interested in special counsel work.  Talk to me.”

Hall wrote back a few weeks later: “FYI – I finally had a conversation with Bill McCollum about what his firm can do for Ohio as special counsel.  He is really only looking at those matters that are out of state and unique enough to require a large international law firm like his. I am giving him the necessary documents to make sure his firm is ready to do work when we have something to give him.”

DeWine responded two hours later: “Great.  Thanks.”

Email Image

On 11/14/2002, McCollum again contributed $500 to DeWine

Pattern is Clear

These are just four examples.  Newspapers and blogs have uncovered other meetings and emails where DeWine himself is steering work towards donors, and even his campaign treasurer.

The Associated Press Article: DeWine email says “Make this happen”

Plunderbund Article: “Future Work” For Old Friends

Overall, the pattern is clear:

  1. the Attorney General directly refers his contributors to the staff member responsible for giving out work to vendors and firms
  2. the Attorney General directly states that the person is “interested” in doing work, and that staff member knows that his job is to help that person as much as possible
  3. as in the case of Example 3 above and the emails involving DeWine’s campaign treasurer, the staff is highly aware who AG DeWine’s supporters are and the priority of helping them navigate office business— referring to them on a first name basis (“Alex”).

All of this is a sad case study of how, from the top, a politician sets a tone of pay to play.  And how, once in place, that tone becomes the culture of the office.

Let’s clean this mess up.