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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

SW Ohio GOP Needs Cash: Dreams Up Pay-To-Stay

HAMILTON (TDB) -- Reporter Candice Brooks Higgins broke a story in the Hamilton Journal-News that Butler County Republican Party leaders are considering tapping elected officials for cash to remain in "good standing" with the GOP. For example, the county prosecutor would have to pay $5,000 yearly, plus 10% of his campaign funds over $50,000, to stay in the Butler party's good graces. A judge would have to pony up about $1,500 annually.

Unfortunately, access to the Journal-News story is password protected and a link is not available. The newspaper is at Butler County is the home of U.S. House Minority Leader JOHN BOEHNER, and presumably the OH-08 congressman would have to hand over cash to remain in good standing.

Butler County Commissioner Michael Fox, a former Ohio House member, has feuded with local party leaders in the past and he told reporter Brooks Higgins that the pay-to-stay plan stinks. "What I care about is being in good standing with voters the voters. That to me is the most striking part of this. It just illustrates a value structure that is out of balance. What happened to good old-fashioned public service," Fox said.

Under the plan, Fox would be expected to give the party $2,500, plus 10 cents on a dollar if he raises more than $25,000 for his campaign treasury. He doesn't plan to pay.

Butler GOP chairman Tom Ellis said the party was looking for ways to raise money and he told the Journal-News "We would be remiss if we didn't look at all sources that might consider pledging to our party." So far, the plan has not be put into effect, and some suggested that other Ohio county parties collect from their elected officeholders.

Recently, Butler County Republicans booted 40 members from the party for not paying dues.

From here, the plan smells like a shell game, or laundry. The party sounds like it wants to turn elected officials into a fundraising arm and bag men. Fox deserves credit for blowing the whistle. The party needs money to pay for a new $800,000 headquarters in Fairfield. Inquiring minds are wondering: Whatever happened to fiscal conservatism?

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