Ohio campaign finance and the A.D.A.

On Thursday, Oct 20, 2016 I made the journey to Columbus to throw myself at the mercy of the Ohio Elections Commission. The local Montgomery County Board of (S)Elections had turned me in for failure to file my 2014 annual campaign finance report. Only thing is, I didn’t run in 2014- or 2015, or collect more than $1000 either year.

But, that’s really just a moot point, since the whole system is really just a kangaroo court of fake transparency. Starting with this:

The Elections Commission holds regular meetings. The schedule of the Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting for 2016 is listed below. All meetings are held in the Riffe Center located at 77 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215. Please contact the Commission staff for suite numbers for all meetings of the Elections Commission. As a scheduled agenda for a meeting is made available, Commission staff will do its best to post it below.

Source: Ohio Elections Commission

There isn’t a single agenda posted.

But, they were going to fine me $25 a day for every day I hadn’t filed- for both years, or some such. But, let’s talk about those filings, because I did. I recorded it for this blog- and to make a case for a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the filing and recording of campaign finance reports across the state of Ohio.

Now, why is the ADA so important? And why is this is a farce?

Because if public documents aren’t ADA compliant- ie- machine readable- they are also not google friendly. This means, PDF documents, filled out on a computer are the minimal standard. But, wait, said one of the commission members- what if you don’t have a computer? Seriously? In 2016- if you don’t have a computer, you shouldn’t be:

a) running for office
b) asking for campaign contributions

Secondly, it seemed that I wasn’t the only scofflaw that was naughty. On the agenda, that wasn’t posted, there were 38 others from Montgomery County- out of 67 statewide.

That should tell you something. And, many of them- are sitting in office right now.

Our local board of (s)election would rather play “Gotcha” than help people run for office. They’d also prefer it if, frankly, you didn’t run- because we can pick everyone ourselves between the party chiefs without voters to make it difficult- but, uh- that’s another matter.

I found it odd that while they had no problem filing against me for my 2014 annual- the organization shilling issue 9 didn’t file at all this year- “Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future” weren’t in trouble- or being chastised. Why is that?

In reality, even if everyone files, all the stinking pre-election, post-election, bi-annual, annual, etc- with the board of (s)elections, there is still no easy way to quickly find or analyze any of it. You have to know what you are looking for because they are posted as scans of printed documents (sometimes handwritten) to the site  http://www.mcohio.org/government/county_agencies/board_of_elections/candidate_tools_election_issues/CF_Reports/

Where you have to know what year, what report, and then you can look down the list and download the non-ADA compliant report.

So when we hear that the Redflex traffic cam president is being hauled off to jail, for donating money to politicians to install her cameras with a nice split of ticket revenue, you’d have to go in and pull each and every politicians report, one-by-one, for days and weeks in order to find her name, or her  lobbyist ,John Raphael, donating to anyone.

Contrast that with the still pathetic, but workable Federal Elections Commission database (they have a new beta site that looks better) where you can search by donor, by candidate, by PAC and get reasonable data of all donors meeting the $250 threshold. Or, you can go over to use the more useful Open Secrets site that reformats and pivots the data so that it’s really useful.

To recap: The Ohio Secretary of State has crafted a whole bunch of reporting forms that make the IRS look like user experience design gods- with a slew of different, nonsensically named and numbered forms, that aren’t computer ready or database connected.

And, yes, I know there is a column called “Fillable PDF” but it really isn’t.

A true document designer would have a single PDF that walks you through questions, and lets the committee fill out each area that is needed, and the form does all the calculation and error checking. You’d fill out the candidates name once, his committee name once, his treasurer name once, and you would enter data in (or import it from a CSV file) for donors, or expenses, that would automatically fill in the fields, and step and repeat as needed until the document was complete- at which point you would click file- and it would electronically send the file to the BOE- and enter all the data into a searchable database. If this sounds like a website- it’s because, that’s really how it should be done- but, PDF’s were invented before the Internet as we now know it- and can do all of these functions also.

There is no need for 35 forms. Only insurance companies and Jon Husted could come up with something that insane for a basic accounting report.

Another problem is the idea of closing campaign committees to stop from having to file these stupid annual filings via document hell. Since the new post 9/11 banking rules took effect, the opening of campaign bank accounts, linking pay pal accounts and all the miscellaneous stuff behind a campaign is incredible difficult and a barrier to running. There should be a simple check box at the top of the site- “I didn’t run for office this year or receive more than $1000 in donations. I understand that if I receive more than $1000 or choose to run again, I will have to file a report of transactions for the years I didn’t run.” Simple. No one should care about these small money accounts being held open to pay for things like keeping a URL and website up.

And, if this is all built properly, the system would automatically send out emails letting you know that a filing deadline is coming up and that you should go see if you need to file. This isn’t rocket science. The fact that 38 people from Montgomery County missed their deadlines says something isn’t working.

Lastly, there are fines levied on people who don’t file. What difference does that make to someone who has raised tens of thousands or even millions? Not much. To the small campaigns- a lot. Is this really democratic? Or is it punitive? And, what about the sneaky PAC running issue 9? What do they care if they get fined- since they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pass their tax increase so public tax dollars can be doled out to private enterprises who are probably backing it?

How about this, if you don’t file, and you win, you lose and are banned from running for a year, or putting a similar issue back on the ballot instead of fines? If campaign finance is really about transparency and integrity, this makes more sense than the hand-slap, after the effort fine.

Of course, the OEC isn’t just taking care of finance reports, they are also the ones who go after people for having signs without the small disclaimer print, the mailings that go out at the last minute that slander people and throw elections etc.  All of which are window dressing on the system that is rigged for the 2 major parties to continue to have it their way or their way.

And while I don’t believe for one minute that our voting system is rigged the way the Donald claims it is, I do know the rules governing small campaigns are rigged to put as many obstacles in place as possible for free-thinkers to run.

If you’d like to hear my monologue to the OEC- here it is:





Campaign contribution tracking, bribery and you

Traffic camCitizens United threw the door open to unlimited money in politics. The Federal Elections Commission “tracking” of donations is such a joke that another site, www.opensecrets.org is the only place you can go to get actual, usable data- like, who gave to whom, from what industry, to what cause etc. However, it’s still built on top of the FEC Data which is bad data to begin with. Need proof? Look at this old post where billionaire Wall Street wizard Steven, or is it Stephen? Is listed with two different names.

When it comes to local and state campaigns, the record keeping is even worse. Handwritten reports are routinely turned in, scanned- and posted on badly built websites to make the records “public.” No database of local election donors exists, making it very hard and time consuming to trace the donors and tie cases like this Redflex bribery scandal together:

A former chief executive officer for red light ticket camera company RedFlex Traffic Systems, the vendor for red light cameras in the Dayton area, pleaded guilty to participating in an eight-year bribery and fraud scheme, the FBI said Friday.

There was no mention of any links to the Dayton area, but officials in Columbus and Cincinnati were said to be involved in the scheme.

According to the plea agreement obtained by the Dayton Daily News, various unnamed elected officials in both cities received disbursements through the Democratic Party from a consultant hired by the company totaling $30,000. The payments were in the form of campaign contributions. The Columbus Dispatch was reporting Friday that one of the officials was Columbus City Council President Andrew Ginther.

The announcement came from Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office.

The executive, Karen L. Finley, 55, of Cave Creek, Arizona, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp of the Southern District of Ohio to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and honest services wire and mail fraud.

Finley’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date, the FBI said.

According to the announcement, from December 2005 to February 2013, Finley, who served as CEO of the red light camera enforcement company, admitted that between 2005 and 2013 she participated in a scheme in which the company made campaign contributions to elected public officials in Columbus and Cincinnati through a consultant retained by the company.

While the consultant is unnamed in court documents, a Dayton Daily News review of campaign contributions found that John P. Raphael made a $20,000 contribution to the Ohio Democratic Party on Oct. 21, 2011 – the amount and date referenced in the Finley plea agreement. His address is listed at 261 E. North Broadway St., Columbus.

Raphael’s clients include contractors who, according to the city auditor’s office, hold more than $61.7 million in contracts with Columbus City Hall. Raphael didn’t immediately return a request for comment left on a voice mail message system.

Among them are construction companies and Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., the company that supplies and operates the city’s red-light cameras.

“According to admissions made in connection with her plea, Finley and others, including another executive of the company, agreed to provide the conduit campaign contributions with the understanding that the elected public officials would assist the company in obtaining or retaining municipal contracts, including a photo red light enforcement contract with the city of Columbus. Finley also admitted she and her co-conspirators concealed the true nature and source of the payments by the consultant’s submission and the company’s payment of false invoices for “consulting services,” which funds the consultant then provided to the campaigns of the elected public officials,” the release said.

Source: Camera vendor admits bribery

Considering that Dayton is still using the Redflex cameras, and our over $650,000 was spent in our last mayoral election- it’s hard to believe that some Redflex money didn’t make it into someone’s campaign coffers.

But, how are you going to tell? There is no database to look up all donors and all donations and all recipients. It’s download each one of the campaign finance reports- as many as 6 a year in an election cycle – per candidate- and then go through them manually- trying to put things together. Trust me, someone tipped the FBI off on this, because there is no way they started this by connecting the dots online.

Considering that our voting records are on line- and available in a searchable format, including our address, party affiliation, age, and voting history, don’t you think we should be able to look up who bought our politicians.

The right way to do this is pretty simple. All candidates register as a candidate and are issued a debit card for purchases, and if need be, an online check-writing account. All donors must register with a REAL Federal Elections Commission, which would require their Social Security number, employer, industry, address, age and yes- their voting record (actual times and places they vote- not how they voted) and through that portal- they can donate as much as they want to any political organization- with a direct bank-to-bank transfer. You know, if they can catch old Denny Hastert for not reporting hush money transfers, we ought to be able to catch the money transfers that turn our political hacks into paid shills.

The system would include a smart phone app for collecting donations at fundraising events, and all cash collected would have to be immediately deposited.

Vendors would also have to register, so they could be paid, making it possible to quickly see which vendors are used by which candidates. Lobbyists would also have to be paid through the system, and have their accounts made public.

The system would bring total transparency to all political campaign money, and also make researching cases like this Redflex scandal an easy one to track.

This is probably why Columbus has been coming down so hard on the traffic cams, not because they work, but because of resentment that some of the money didn’t come their way. Redflex gets a percentage of every ticket that is issued into perpetuity from their cameras- providing a non-stop source of revenue to continue the payoffs.

If the system was a simple purchase and you own it, the money flow would be 100% back to the community that bought and installed them. If there was one part of this deal that always stunk it was the payoff to Redflex. However this isn’t any different than the deal the casinos made to be handed a monopoly on gambling in Ohio.

Our campaign finance reporting system is a joke. Creating a single portal for all donations would put an end to a lot of the games that are being played in order to buy your way into office.

Will this system be implemented? Not until we get rid of the best politicians money can buy- they like it just the way it is.


27 June 2015 If you want to see the way a real newspaper reports about a news story- you should wander over to the Chicago Tribune:
This is the link to a short article: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-23/news/ct-redflex-red-light-bribery-20140123_1_redflex-holdings-ltd-company-policy-camera-company

but the link at the end (it’s 2 pages) has a link to a summary of all the articles about the red light scams in Chicago- including short yellows, the firing of Redflex etc-

Political campaign hot cards and websites for less

Shameless plug, or doing my part to change the way politics work?

One of the biggest problems facing America is the high cost of running for office. I know full well how much it costs, having run more times than most (and lost).

To help cut the expense of running for office- my firm, The Next Wave, does campaign pieces- websites- printing- for a lot less than what most “political consultants” charge- and it looks better.

We just did a logo, hotcards, letterhead, envelopes, car magnet and a website for local judicial candidate Mia Wortham Spells.

Mia Spells Hot card Mia Spells Hot card back

The website is basic, but functional and responsive. Done in WordPress, with a PayPal donation engine. You can learn how to manage a WordPress website yourself by coming to one of our Websitetology Seminars, the next one is Tuesday June 23.

Our printing prices are some of the best in town- 1000 4/c, 2/s 4×6 hotcards on 16 pt stock are only $44.55 You can find more prices at www.thenextwaveprinting.com

We’re also doing design work, hotcards, banners and yard signs for Dayton City Commission Scott Sliver and signs and some other printing for Dayton School Board candidate John McManus.

We’ve done door hangers for Beavercreek Township Trustee Tom Kretz, notecards for State Rep. Jim Butler,  Butler Twp. Trustee Joe Flanagan, Liberty Twp. Trustee candidate Rhonda Freeze and of course former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell and city commission candidate David Greer (one of my favorite portrait shoots). This is mostly in the name of full disclosure- and just because we do design and print for these people, doesn’t mean it’s an endorsement.

What’s funny is that the local Democratic party does a lot of its printing out of Columbus instead of supporting a local Service Disabled Veteran (me) and probably pays more for everything.

Don’t overpay for crappy printing for campaign literature that no one will read anyway – buy it from The Next Wave.

It’s time you elected politicians as tight with their own money as they’ll be with your money.


When buying political office in Dayton, don’t buy local: Whaley spends out of town

The post election campaign finance reports were due Friday.

The Dayton Daily weighed in claiming this the most expensive race ever, if you add in the in-kind donations the Whaley campaign took in:

Whaley raised $364,969 and spent $411,656, according to reports filed beginning in January 2013. She spent more than she took in because of carry-over amounts from 2012

A.J. Wagner raised $122,190 and spent $140,888 during the same period. His report includes $10,000 loans from Zafar Rizvi of Butler Twp. and Michael Oberer of Washington Twp.

Together the two candidates raised $487,159 in cash and spent $552,544. By comparison, spending for the the Turner-Rhine McLin match totaled $770,000.

But while that 2001 race still wins as far as overall spending, using another measure, Whaley may very well have run the city’s most expensive mayoral bid for a single candidate. “In-kind” contributions – which are services or things of value, such as production cost for mailers or food donated for events provided to a campaign – save the campaign from having to spend money on those items and services. If the value of those in-kind contributions are included with Whaley’s total cash contributions she easily tops Turner’s spending in the 2001 race, with $532,640 in expenditures and in-kind contributions.

via Dayton Mayor candidates spent nearly $500k | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

All that money, to get a measly 9,211 votes and a record low turnout of 16,334. For comparison, 4 years ago, Gary Leitzell won the office over Rhine McLin with 15,316 while spending around $20,000.

When you take Whaley’s $532,640 and divide it by number of votes, she spent an astonishing: $57.83 per vote. Wagner, spent $19.78 per vote to get 7,123 votes.

Looking over the reports a few things:

  • Mims and Williams reports are incomplete, missing their expenditure pages.
  • Greer’s report says he spent $4,414.19- but only has listed $300 expense to Dayton Weekly News- suggesting he was doing totals for the campaign- not the period (which was only from Oct. 18 to Dec. 6, 2013.)
  • A.J. lists his vendors, right down to everyone he paid to stand out at the polls on election day. Nan’s lists vendors- who then subcontracted work- so you don’t know what she really paid for or to whom. Apparently, her friend Gen Murphy runs a temporary services company now- since she paid her $1,000 for “election day services” which is a nice way of obfuscating who got paid on election day.

Whaley spends big money with out-of-town people:

  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/17/13 $22,971.09 Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • The New Media Firm 10/18/13 $4,905.50 Media 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Momentum Analysis 10/19/13–$1,000.00 Consulting Fee 1508 Monroe Street, NW Washington DC 20010
  • The New Media Firm 10/23/13 $36,003.18 Media — 1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/29/13 $18,384.51  Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • JVA Campaigns 10/29/13 $7,293.70 Media  1301 Dublin Road, Suite 302 Columbus OH 43215
  • The New Media Firm 10/29/13 $14,236.75 Media  1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 213 Washington DC 20036
  • Ohio Democratic Party 10/30/13 $6,204.43 Payroll Service 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215
  • JVA Campaigns 10/30/13 $2,250.00 Media 1301 Dublin Road, Suite 302 Columbus OH 43215 1486
  • Ohio Democratic Party10/31/13 $12,022.84  Contribution 340 E. Fulton Street Columbus OH 43215

Note, this is all within a 2-week period- and tells us nothing of what she was actually buying. Mailings, TV time, volunteers- we have no idea.

And, there are media buying firms in Dayton who have a lot more experience buying media in our market. Considering the regular commission for placing TV and Radio by an agency- is 15%- this is $54,897.90 in buys, sending $8,234 out of our community to DC or Columbus- and that was just the money on media- what the ODP did with their $59,582.87 in two weeks, we’ll never know.

The real question is where have all the voters gone? 4 years ago 29,750 people made a decision on who would be mayor. This year, 16,334. Did we really lose 13,416 voters? Or were that many people non-plussed by the choices?

Four years ago I got 9,440 votes. That’s 229 more votes than Whaley won with. Had I drawn the same number this time, I would have come in 2nd to Williams and you’d be calling me commissioner.

  • Jeffrey J. Mims Jr. 8,698 30.94%
  • Joey D. Williams 10,333 36.76%

It was also interesting that the Dayton Daily News didn’t mention anything about Mims having to quit his elected position on the state school board – giving the Republican Governor yet another appointee, until after the election. It was on Nov. 17th in an article written by the Akron Beacon Journal:

Just one board member — Jeffrey Mims of Dayton — is African American, and Mims is resigning from the board after getting elected to the Dayton City Commission Nov. 5. Mims is also a Democrat, meaning the board could add another Republican when Gov. John Kasich names his replacement.

Just two of the 17 members reside in urban school districts, and one of the two is the departing Mims.

via Obscure board has big impact on school policy | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

A minor detail, conveniently overlooked, despite my asking Jeremy Kelley of the DDN what happens to Mims school board seat in our pre-general election interviews.

A few other interesting details on the reports:

Whaley got a sizable donation well after the election from the CEO of CareSource:

  • Pamela Morris Lemmon 10736 Falls Creek Ln. Dayton OH 45458 11/18/13 Check $1,500.00

Is this to help grease wheels for more taxpayer-funded construction for CareSource- which is hauling in windfall money thanks to the Affordable Care Act?

And, will Oberer Development still be doing their development with city support on Warren Street since Mike Oberer extended a $10K loan to A.J.? Rumor had it that George Oberer got a call from Nan threatening further support for them working in the city if they continued to support her.

His report includes $10,000 loans from Zafar Rizvi of Butler Twp. and Michael Oberer of Washington Twp.

Dayton Mayor candidates spent nearly $500k | www.mydaytondailynews.com

To download and look at the reports yourself, go to the MCBoe.org site: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/ and select 2013, and 2013 Post General.






Ten thousand dollars reached. Ten thousand thank yous.

Last night, the last donation came in. 9 days before the election, and I reached the goal of $10,000. Any donation from this point on- would go for nets, rims, backboards, tools to clean up courts and to cut off nasty old rusted hardware.

If you look at my campaign finance report: David Esrati PreGeneral Report 2013 PDF you’ll see that the money was spent responsibly. Some may argue that much of the money came back to my own company- The Next Wave, as if I’m paying myself to run- however, when you compare it to others- you’ll realize I spent a lot less on printing, website development, video production etc. – because, I do a lot of it myself. I manage my own campaign (not the smartest way to go)- I edit and post my own videos (other than the interns who did the hoops video) and I maintain my own site- and post to it too. I do my own social media- etc. It’s a hands-on campaign. I even cook for my own fundraisers- and if you missed my pancakes- or chicken parmigiana, you missed out.

The real question is- what good is a $10K campaign if you don’t win? The answer is- it’s not. But, the idea that my principles haven’t been compromised is priceless to me. Of course, when it comes to politics- principles left the building long ago in this country.

Back in 1999 I ran against Bootsie Neal and Dean Lovelace in a 3-way race. Dean raised and spent $12K, Bootsie did $10K and I ran on $7k. When the votes came in- Dean had 12,000, Bootsie 10,000 and I had 7,000. It came in almost exactly at $1 a vote. I was disgusted, but I don’t give up that easily.

The real eye opener has been the Internet- both from a standpoint of being able to directly communicate with so many- and the advent of tools like CiviCRM. Working on the first Obama campaign I got a good look at how data was used to target voters. It changed my perception of how to run an effective campaign. The second epiphany was in my last run in Dayton 4 years ago (2 years ago my petitions came up a few signatures short) was that many of the voters I needed to reach weren’t online. To most of you reading this- that’s almost inconceivable. I knew I had to do something totally different to reach voters who aren’t connected.

The basketball net idea wasn’t fully formed when I began this campaign. In fact, after the bruising year I had last year, I almost wasn’t going to run. Had it not been for Terry Posey pushing with a donation and Gary Leitzell needing candidates and the fact that I’d already given up a relationship that was important to me partially over this- the smart thing would have been to not run. But here I am. $10K raised, a ton of doors knocked on. New friends in barber shops all over town, and more thank yous than I’ve ever heard in a campaign- mostly from people too young to vote.

Even if I lose- because of my choice to invest in actions over words with the “hoops Dayton” campaign- Dayton is a better place.

To everyone of you who’ve donated, I am humbled. To the few people who’ve donated nets and rims- those were the best donations because they empowered me to change the city one small bit toward my vision of what Dayton can be. And to those of you who stepped up and helped hang rims, clean up courts, hang nets and walk and talk to people- actions speak louder than words- and I can’t thank you enough.

The last push is this week. I still have a few low-budget tricks up my sleeve, but, mainly I need all of you to spread the word to your friends who are voters in Dayton- to urge them to give me a chance to represent them. To have someone who will work tirelessly to restore pride and respect in and for Dayton. To change the way we think of government and what it can do for us- to make Dayton a place where people want to live, invest, work and play- regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, nationality or moral compass.

If you want to volunteer- I have literature and walk lists. On election day, I need people to stand outside the polls and talk to voters. If you can or want to do either – call me at 985-1312 or write [email protected]

10,000 thank yous.

And special thanks to Ryan- for being the final donor.

Now- someone can test to see if you can still donate over the goal…. so we have some money for rims. I was at Washington Park yesterday morning- 2 backboards had no rims. I can fix that with a few hundred dollars.

What the big money in the Dayton “primary” meant

Since the campaign finance reports rolled out, I’ve held back from analyzing or discussing them, because, frankly, it’s poor form to talk poorly about someone right after the funeral. That someone is democracy, and if this is a harbinger of the future of Dayton politics, we may as well just stop having elections and auction off the public offices.

The May 7, 2013 “special election” did more damage to any hope of regionalism than anything I can think of. No suburban jurisdiction is ever going to feel that it can be represented in an election where a third of a million dollars buys 75% of the votes?

Mayor Leitzell spent a paltry $2K on his campaign, with probably 1/3 of it on literature printing with my firm, The Next Wave, and half of it on postage. He did a little analysis on Nan Whaley’s and A.J. Wagner’s spending in two posts, Nan first:

285 donations out of 730 total were from outside the region. That is 39%. Of the $169,384 that those 730 people or entities contributed, $89,181 was from outside the region. That is 52.6%. Her “in kind” donations totaled $43,032 and of that, $42,592 came from outside the region. Mostly from Columbus, for a total of 98.9%.

Much of her money came from outside Ohio. Some from Washington D.C. and some from New York. She held fundraising events in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and in Indiana. One should be asking why money for a nonpartisan local election needs to come from outside the region.

Now I think that it is great that she was able to bring over $89,000 to the local area from other places. It could be used to boost the local economy. However that was not the case. Of the $212,767 that she spent on her campaign, $196,843 or 92.5% of the total was spent OUTSIDE the region!

via Dayton Mayor: Nanonomics 101.

and then on AJ’s:

A.J. Wagner raised $9,520 of his $78,442 from outside the region. That is 12% of his total. However, like the other Democratic party candidate, he spent most of his campaign funds OUTSIDE the region. Of the $96,678 spent on his campaign in cash spending, $63,194 was spent with businesses outside the Dayton area. I consider Yellow Springs and Xenia to be inside the area but not Columbus or Washington, D.C. That is a total of 65%. His “in kind” donations totaled $5,100 and that was all derived from local contributors.

via Dayton Mayor: Wagnernomics 101.

As an award-winning advertising professional, what amazed me the most was that both campaigns bought TV- for a local race. Television is a broadcast medium- it covers a broad area, meaning most of people having to suffer through their horrible ads (they were both really bad) weren’t even able to vote for either candidate. Channel 7 reaches from Springfield to Eaton, Celina to Middletown. It’s called overspend and overreach and shows that neither candidate (or their campaign advisers) knows or cares about efficiency.

One of the most interesting articles I’ve seen lately about marketing and campaigns was a long piece in the N.Y. Times that showed how the Obama campaign spent about 35% less than the Romney campaign by using big data to find the most cost-effective buys. They figured out, using combinations of psychographics and new media’s social graph, that they’d get more bang for their buck by targeting marginally informed voters who watch things like Judge Judy than those who already are informed and watch the much more expensive national news. Not only that, going to Washington to buy media in Dayton is an insult to local media professionals who have more experience negotiating rates and schedules in Dayton than any outsider ever would.  But that was par for the course.

Both candidates used vendors outside our community for their sites, and paid exorbitantly for them. Nan spent a fortune on mailings, but was smart enough not to put Gary’s photo on half of them like her former best friend Rhine McLin did in her epic loss to Gary Leitzell four years ago where she outspent him 6-1.

The oddest thing was that A.J.’s ads trotted out Rhine McLin as a supporter. Considering he only beat Gary by a few hundred votes, it will be interesting to see if he continues this “strategy” in the general election in November.

The big question is will either candidate be able to continue to raise money in the same manner. Nan now has her “commanding win” in the primary and some donors may feel fleeced by her wild spending and ridiculous cost per vote of $52. A.J. may look like an underdog with no chance who still had to spend nearly as much per vote. Considering both are old school Montgomery County Democrats used to being handed elections in the back room deals that the party favors, the major rift is going to be within the local party and to see if the union membership is going to actually work hard for either candidate (some union members felt betrayed going with the young pup Whaley who has been on the scene for a minute compared to their old friend A.J., and have told me that the bosses may back Whaley because they are afraid of her money and friends like Sherrod Brown, but they will be voting for A.J.).

Neither Joey Williams or Jeff Mims did much but ride the coattails of the Whaley machine, counting on her GOTV (Get out the vote) machine and their inclusion on an early mailer and the Endorsed Democratic Party Slate card that she also sent out. Since both actually did better than Whaley in actual votes, it will be interesting to see how much more they campaign and what will happen when the Whaley and Wagner campaigns start trying to differentiate their positions.

I’d love to take the time to analyze some of Whaley’s donors and their motives, to see how much money is coming in from demolition contractors, landfill operators, health care networks- the people she likes to take care of with our public money, but, since there is no reporting of employers in local filings, it would take a long time- and I’ve got a campaign to run.

I spent about $3,500 in the primary, which was higher than I wanted to, partially because of postage and printing joint pieces with the Mayor and the other independent Democrat David K. Greer. I’m about $40 shy of the halfway mark of $5,000 in my campaign fund and after I hit $10K will start looking for charities to donate any overage to.

What is most critical is really knocking on doors and organizing volunteers right now. If you’d like to help either donate, or volunteer, please head over to electesrati.com and sign up.

We shouldn’t have auctions instead of elections, and we most certainly deserve better than the best politicians money can buy. It’s too bad the Mayor didn’t knock on a few hundred more doors, invest in a single robo-call reminder to his supporters or let me put the election date on the big signs we had (he wanted us to be able to use them in the fall), because now, he’s on the sidelines.

Just think, 300 more votes and Leitzell would have beat Wagner and the 300 to 1 spending  odds. That would have been close to historic and proof that politics doesn’t have to be decided by selling out to special interests and outsiders.

Esrati post primary campaign finance report

Better late than never. Here it is- the numbers are a little higher than I’d like- mostly due to mistakenly mailing postcards to people who voted early in person (although, with the number of them that returned, we’re going to have to do a little investigation).

We’ve taken in some donations post deadline, since we’ve got our donation system back online. I spent $4,234.60 in the primary, for 2,087 votes. I spent about $2.03 a vote, a far cry from the $50 a vote the Mayoral “winners” spent. That leaves me $5,800 to work with. For the record, Jeff Mims spent $4,836.87 on the primary to get 5,282 votes, and Joey Williams spent $3,733.90 to get 6,384 votes, although both were riding on Nan’s coattails with her quarter million dollar “campaign.”

If you count that some of my postage and printing also promoted the other Dayton Independent Candidates, Greer and Leitzell, if I had been reimbursed, it would have cut about $500 off the total.

I’ll be turning in the autographed version in the morning, but here is the PDF in a readable format for you to review: Elect Esrati Post primary Campaign finance report 16JUN13

I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November. If you want at least one independent voice on the commission who doesn’t spend like a drunken sailor on a campaign, using vendors from out of state (both Nan and AJ hired DC firms to place their media buys- as if local Dayton media buyers don’t know this market better), please consider donating- the button is on the right.

With the exception of some campaign supplies- all my printing, vendors are local. I reinvest in my community.

Esrati screws up. Missed campaign filing deadline

I’ve been reconstructing the database of donors on my site. Apparently, I misread the deadline, which was today- the 14th- as the 24th and thought I had more time to finish rebuilding my campaign finance report from the documentation I had.

I’m sorry.

The finance reports are up- and show an ungodly amount of money spent by A.J. Wagner and Nan Whaley.

You can look for yourself here: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/CF_Reports/cf_reports.cfm

I’ll leave it to the Dayton Daily News to tell you what they spent. I’ve got a campaign finance report to do.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

The Special Election Sweepstakes Contest: place your bets

A.J. Wagner was telling me on Thursday night after the State of the City address that Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Steve Harsman predicts that the results will be done by 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7.

I understand statistics, and I understand predictions based on prior elections, but, we’ve not had a primary in Dayton City Commission races in 20 years, and even then, never had three well known candidates. When Richard Clay Dixon was challenged by 5 others including me- no one knew who Mike Turner was. And there definitely wasn’t this kind of spending- Mayor Dixon had raised $28,000 which was a really large sum- and that was after the primary that had him facing Turner.

Nan Whaley raised and spent well over $100,000 in the primary. She’s sent absentee ballot requests, early voting requests, and a mailing almost every other day for the last two weeks. The question is, will it cause people to go vote? Dayton doesn’t have any tax levy on the ballot- so it’s not about hitting voters in their wallets. There was even a mass mailing by the BOE to tell everyone their polling place had changed (yet again). So- statistics really don’t exist.

To make this fun- here is what I propose, a 2-part poll contest. Winner gets me to make them my famous chicken parmigiana (I’ll deliver it to your house to do the finish bake if you don’t want to eat with me, or I’ll do the dinner here. Serves up to 8 people of your choice.)

Guess where Nan comes in, 1st, 2nd or 3rd, and dollars spent per vote. Dollars per vote will have to be determined after the next campaign finance report is due Post-Primary June 14, 2013, to disclose activity through June 7, 2013. (The MCBOE link is to a dead page on the SOS site: http://www.mcohio.org/boe/candidate_tools/campaign_finance.html > http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/CampaignFinance/filingRed/CFGuide/Resources/CurrentYearCalendar.aspx – the SOS isn’t doing us much better- with a link to a pdf http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/CampaignFinance.aspx > http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/candidates/Calendar2013.pdf) Dinner to be delivered on any Saturday or Sunday night before July 4 2013.
To give an instant post election prize- predict turnout too- and the person who gets the closest on turnout and Nan’s position wins a brand new in the box, last generation ipod shuffle.

So- format for entry: 3rd, $19,83 and 12, 850 that’s Nan Whaley’s position after the primary, total spent by Nan per vote she received and total turnout (ballots cast).

Trying to pick winners and losers in this 3-way race is very hard, since Nan and A.J. may split the long-time Democratic voters, Gary gets the Republicans, Independents, people who like what he’s done without 2 other votes of support, plus the voters who are just voting against the ridiculous money being thrown at this race. The final separation of votes could be another betting option- with it coming down to less than a hundred between places. (feel free to throw the final spread between either top and bottom or bottom 2 vote getters- make sure you label your numbers correctly :)

The Sweepstakes for Dayton are now open. Pundits, sharpen your pencils.

And one last note: There is a $1,000 bounty out for anyone who records a call  or person from a campaign offering Dayton voters any kind of incentive to go vote on Tuesday, such as a free meal, a bus pass, or cash. Rides to the polls are ok, but, any other talk of an incentive on the way to the polls- is cash in your pocket.

It’s candidates like Nan Whaley who cause “right-to-work” (for less) bills

When the Montgomery County Democratic Party chose to endorse Nan Whaley in the May 7 “primary/run-off” election, instead of endorsing both her and longtime Dem A.J. Wagner, they made a major mistake. Two candidates will advance after May 7- so, they could have endorsed two, but since they aren’t really there to elect Dems- just their inner circle, they alienated a lot of people, including some of the unions. A few of the union leaders said that they’d endorse her, but vote for him. He’s been around a lot longer.

But, never mind their rank and file’s preference, three unions contributed $10K each, and a bunch more tossed at least $1,000 her way. She’s been spending it like crazy, mailings, robo-calls, TV, radio, yard signs etc. She’s already probably spent as much in the last 8 weeks as Rhine McLin spent 4 years ago to get beat by Gary Leitzell, over the whole campaign- and we’ve still got 6 months to go.

This kind of money and foot soldiers scares Republicans- who can usually count on a few rich people to donate large sums, but can’t get 10 volunteers to go out and canvass, while the unions supply cash and shoe leather.

So once again, Republican Ohio lawmakers are trying to level the playing field:

Republican state Reps. Ron Maag, of Lebanon, and Kristina Roegner, of Hudson, plan to introduce two bills — one for the public sector and one for the private sector — that would end mandatory membership and dues payments to unions. In letters seeking support from House members, the representatives wrote that their respective bills would eliminate any requirements that public employees join or pay dues to unions and prohibit private employers from requiring union membership.

via Two state reps plan to introduce right-to-work bills.

The sad thing is, this is nothing new. My father supported Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota for the Democratic nomination for president in 1968. The union decided to back and give money to LBJ. He went to the American Civil Liberties Union and complained when the Cleveland Newspaper Guild gave a dime per capita to COPE (The AFL-CIO’s Committee for Political Education, which backed the re-election of LBJ). Nothing became of it.

If unions stayed out of politics, and stuck to improving the conditions for their workers, maybe, we wouldn’t see union dues being turned into a political football.

It’s going to be especially sad when the voters tell Nan that she’s not ready to be mayor of Dayton no matter how much of other people’s money she squanders on her inane campaign. It’s time to send a message to politicians and unions alike- stop trying to buy your way into office and screw up our democratic system. Big money isn’t the answer. Better answers are.

Donations to Whaley from Labor (this campaign only):

  • AFSCME Ohio Council 8 LA1273 6800 North High Street Worthigton OH 43085 3/13/13 check $10,000.00
  • Ohio State Association Plumbers & Pipefitters PCE 947 Goodale Blvd., Suite 209 Columbus OH 43212 2/23/13 Check $2,500.00
  • Communications Workers of America Ohio Legislative Action Committee LA166 20525 Center Ridge Rd., No. 700 Rocky River OH 1/24/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Communications Workers of America Ohio Legislative Action Committee LA166 20525 Center Ridge Rd., No. 700 Rocky River OH 3/15/13 Check $10,000.00
  • Laborers Dis. Council of Ohio·LPL 152 Dorchester Sq., Westerville OH 43081 3/1/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Dayton Area Sheet Metal Workers PEC OHlOSS 4949 Northcutt Place, Dayton OH 45414 3/22/13 Check $100.00
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters U62 SSFPCE local, 1200 E. second Street, Dayton OH 45403 3/22/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Ironworkers Local 290 290 PCE 606, Hillrose Ave., Dayton OH 45404 3/27/13 Check $100.00
  • OAPSE AFSCME Turnaround Ohio PAC LA 1269, 6805 Oak Creek Drive, Columbus OH 43.Z29 4/2/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen PAC C00099234, 1370 Ontario St., Cleveland OH 44113 4/4/13 Check $500.00
  • United Food and Commercial workers International Union, CLC Active Ballot Club C00020, 766 1775 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20060 4/10[13 Check $10,000.00
  • Ironworkers Political Action League Multi Candidate Committee C00027359, 1750 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C., 20006 4/15/13 Check $1,000.00
  • Dayton Area Sheet Metal Workers PEC OHlOSS, 4949 Northcutt Place, Dayton OH 45414 2/2.8/13 Check $250.00
  • Dayton Building Trades Council PCE, 1200 E. 2nd Street, Dayton OH 45403 12/29/12 Check $100.00
  • Ironworkers Local 290 PCE, 606 Hillrose Ave., Dayton OH 45404 12/03/12 Check $500.00
  • Dayton Building Trades Council PCE, 1200 E. 2nd Street, Dayton OH 45403 12/06/12 Check $250.00
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters Local #162 PCE, 1200 E. 2nd Street, Dayton OH 45403 12/06/12 Check $1,000.00
  • Dayton Area Sheet Metal Workers Political Education Committee OH1055, 4949 Northcutt Place, Dayton OH 45414 12/17/12 Check $300.00

I’m not even going to total it up – someone else can.

From her 2013 pre-primary and her 2012 annual campaign finance reports.

Do you wonder why Republicans want to kill unions? It’s about protecting their jobs.