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Monday, February 22, 2010

Lee Fisher Pockets Campaign Cash From American Greetings CEO: Meanwhile, Company Threatens To Leave Ohio

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher's campaign for Ohio's Democratic U.S. Senate nomination largely pivots on jobs and economic growth issues. Fisher says on the campaign trail "good, hardworking people have lost their jobs" and he's the guy who can stop the bleeding. But it sure seems at cross purposes for Fisher to accept $6,200 in campaign contributions from top executives at American Greetings Corp., a company that is threatening to pull its world headquarters out of Ohio. By pocketing the donation, Fisher gives ammunition to Republican Rob Portman, who says he knows best how to revive the economy, and Democrat Jennifer Brunner, who says Fisher's campaign is heavily dependent on funding from bankers and PACs. Portman has been mocking Fisher as a "jobs czar" whose era running the Ohio Department of Development saw hundreds of thousands of jobs vanish.

Based in a Cleveland suburb, American Greetings is the nation's largest publicly held greeting card manufacturer. It has about 2,000 workers at its headquarters in Brooklyn, Ohio. Records at the Federal Election Commission (see above) show American Greetings CEO Zev D. Weiss has maxed out his legally allowed donations to Fisher for Ohio, the lieutenant governor's campaign committee. Another exec, Jeff Weiss, has given $1,000. American Greetings doesn't like the municipal income tax rate in suburban Brooklyn, where it has been located since 1956. The company said last month in a memo to employees: "We have engaged an outside real estate firm to held us consider the pros, cons and issues of moving . . ."

A decade ago, American Greeting bought rival Gibson Greetings in Cincinnati for about $163 million. It closed the nation's third largest cardmaker's Amberley Village plant, a 563,000 square foot factory that remains mostly vacant. About 1,000 people lost their jobs when American Greetings shut the plant. When he started running for the Senate last year, Fisher sent out a letter seeking campaign contributions. He had been the state's economic development director. He said he would lead the fight to save and create jobs:

"I've looked into the faces of Ohioans whose dreams have been shattered. Much of what they counted on in life has been torn from their grasp. They don't want sympathy, and they don't want promises . . . I know that with hard work and the right message, we can win this campaign for the U.S. Senate and add a voice to the national debate on behalf of Ohio's working families and hard-hit communities."

Bottom line: Fisher looks to have a problem. His campaign is relying on funds from a CEO whose threat to move could add to the list of Ohio's "hard-hit communities."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Bill, for this nugget. It goes in my files for reference when it's time to vote. Keep'em rolling, Bill. Hopefully, voters will make informed, wise decisions in November.

    As an aside, to this day, I miss the Gibson Greetings line of cards. A tasteful, well-meaning card for any & all occasions. Their quality control was unsurpassed. The paper junk on the market today cannot compare.