Mike DeWine’s Pay to Play

Since January, media outlets across Ohio have highlighted Mike DeWine’s multi-million dollar pay-to-play operation. DeWine's Pay to Play Claims Dayton Daily News – Firms gave heavily to DeWine, GOP

Associated Press – DeWine’s vetting of law firms undocumented

Plunderbund – No Criteria, Lots Of Cash: DeWine Bid Process A Perfect Model Of Pay To Play

Plunderbund – DeWine’s Pay To Play Cookbook: In Bed With Anti-Gay Activists

Plunderbund – DeWine Pay-To-Play Cookbook: Special Access For Ohio Right-To-Life Leader

Plunderbund – DeWine Pay-To-Play Cookbook: “Future Work” For Old Friends

Plunderbund – DeWine Pay-To-Play Cookbook: A New Rainmaker At The Firm

The Facts on DeWine’s Pay-to-Play Scheme
  • DeWine loaned his campaign $2 million prior to November 2010, and has spent the time since he was elected raising dollars into his campaign account in order to pay back almost all of that loan to himself. The total amount paid back is now $1.7 million.  (Source: Secretary of State filings; Dayton Daily News,1/26/2014)
  • DeWine conducts an annual bid process to select a panel of securities law firms to represent and consult Ohio. These firms stand to make millions or hundreds of millions in fees should they succeed in bringing cases on behalf of Ohio.  Last year’s settlement of the Bank of America case led to $152 million in attorney’s fees. (Dayton Daily News, 1/26/2014)
  • Despite assurances to the contrary by DeWine himself, there is little documentation for how his office selects the firms to be on this panel. (Associated Press, Plunderbund)
    • On June 26, 2014, the Associated Press reported that the Attorney General’s Office “can provide little written evidence the selection committee completed its work. A public records request by the AP turned up no judges’ notes, scoring sheets, email exchanges on firms’ qualifications or recommendations made to DeWine.”  The office admitted it eliminated a merit-based process that existed under Richard Cordray.
    • A separate series of public records obtained in 2012 and 2013 revealed the same. In response to those requests, the Attorney General’s office stated that “there are no records” of documents (Plunderbund 6/28/14):
      • “outlining the evaluation process that the Securities Litigation Committee, the Attorney General and Attorney General staff utilize to evaluate RFQ proposals submitted by law firms and lawyers”
      •  “detailing the specific evaluation, ranking and/or scoring of each firms’ proposals”
      • Comprising “recommendations and evaluations of proposals from the Securities Litigation Committee to the Attorney General or Attorney General staff.”
      • The office explained that for Fiscal Year 2012, only two meetings were conducted and a “verbal recommendation” was made to the Attorney General.  For Fiscal Year 2013, “a less formal process” was followed. There are no records whatsoever of meetings, makeup of the selection committee, recommendations because no meetings or formal process took place.
      • Only a very rudimentary (and empty) Excel spreadsheet was turned over, and it was not filled out, circulated or shared with DeWine.  (Associated Press, Plunderbund)
  • Firms selected to be on this panel have given tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands to either DeWine directly, to the Ohio Republican Party, which then sends the money to DeWine in large chunks, or to the Summit County Republican Party, which does the same. The total amount given is more than $1 million. (Secretary of State; Dayton Daily News, 1/26/2014; Associated Press, 6/26/14)
  • Much of the fundraising from these firms happens at the very moment that the bid process to select the next year’s panel is taking place. (Dayton Daily NewsAssociated Press, 6/26/14). Dozens of checks totaling thousands of dollars have been written to DeWine and the Republican Party at the exact moment when DeWine’s office is making award decisions.
    • In 2011:
      • The first annual bid was announced on March 11, the responses were due April 1, and the decisions were announced on May 2.
      • Shortly before, during and after the submissions—but before the May 2 announcement of who was selected–$75,000 was raised from 2 firms that were ultimately selected in that bid process.
      • Numerous other firms selected gave generously to the Republican Party or the DeWine campaign within several months of the start or end of the bid process, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    • In 2012:
      • The annual bid was announced on May 30, the responses were due June 27, and the announcement of the selections was August 8.
      • During the bid process, and before the August 8 selection announcement, 6 law firms contributed dozens of checks directly to DeWine, totaling tens of thousands of dollars.  (Secretary of State website)
      • Four law firms sent at least one check on the same day that they submitted their responses to the bid. One firm sent four checks totaling $16,000 on the same day, and one of those checks was sent (and signed) from the same person who signed the RFP proposal on the very same day. These checks were all illegal and had to be returned after a newspaper uncovered them. (Dayton Daily News)
      • Two firms gathered and sent multiple checks to DeWine’s campaign in July—after they had submitted their proposals, but prior to the decision by the AG’s office on the fate of their proposals.  They were selected only weeks later. (Secretary of State website)
      • Two law firms selected this year had been rejected the year before.  While their proposals had hardly changed, both gave tens of thousands of dollars in the year following the rejection of their bid (one to the Ohio Republican Party, the other to the Summit County Republican Party).  (Secretary of State, Dayton Daily News, Associated Press)