Conflicts abound when deals are done in back rooms

The hypocrisy of all this is amazing- yet, no one other than yours truly, has questioned how the Congressman’s wife, with no office in Atlanta or Washington, is doing work for the Home Depot PAC (most definitley a conflict of interest). Another question- is how the Turner Effect could even consider bidding on Government Contracts (it did work for the Army Corps of Engineers) without it looking like a conflict. And, this subtle change on their website- last week Turner Effect had a dropdown menu that said they had a GSA schedule, but it’s not on the site today.

A GSA schedule is a complex contract that sets standard rates for Government work to make it easier for government buyers to award bids without having to pre-qualify the contractor (it’s referred to as a “license to hunt” government work by one local holder).

However Turner Effect does have an “Ethics policy” on site- which I will include after the “More” split on this post- since it can’t be linked to directly or read by blind people- a non-ADA compliant site (they have poor web skills, in addition to lackluster branding skills IMHO) which would seem to conflict their PAC work with their number 2) directive.

However, the paper is now airing a squabble among the power brokers of Dayton on questioning their private decisions in public (started when Dem Party Chair Mark Owens signed off on a Jane Mitakides e-mail questioning the ethics of Turner Effect’s no bid work for the Dayton Development Coalition).

Questions on branding deal draw criticism
Business leaders slam newspaper about coverage of Turner Effect contract.

DAYTON — Leaders of local business groups have slammed the Dayton Daily News for its coverage of a no-bid contract of more than $300,000 to a company owned by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s wife, and asked the chairmen of the Montgomery County political parties not to “politicize” the issue.But county Democratic Chairman Mark Owens said that won’t stop his party from questioning the Turners’ actions related to Dayton Development Coalition’s choice of Lori Turner’s marketing firm as lead contractor for a $1.5 million regional branding campaign that resulted in the slogan, “Get Midwest.”

“If the other side is doing something we feel to be unethical, we’re going to ask questions about it,” Owens said. Turner is up for re-election this fall.

In a letter to the chairmen dated Thursday, Feb. 14, officials of the public-private coalition and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce lauded the coalition’s process of setting regional economic development priorities and lobbying the local congressional delegation — including Turner — for federal funds to pursue them.

“We were doing the best we could to add clarity to both these party leaders and stop this thing from getting nasty and ugly,” said chamber President Phillip Parker, one of the signers of the letter. Asked about the letter’s accusation that the newspaper published “false information,” Parker said only that he thought the articles gave the misleading impression the coalition was attempting to “curry favor” with Rep. Turner by hiring his wife.

Owens, who is the Dayton Municipal Court clerk, said he supports the planning process. “However, the issue of Mike Turner and his wife’s acceptance of the no-bid contract is a whole separate issue,” he said. “Certainly there are questions that have been raised that should have been answered by the congressman.”

Owens said coalition officials “would have been better off if they had gone out for bids” to “take away the question of impropriety.”

County Republican Chairman Gregory Gantt said he is reviewing the letter and supports the work of the coalition.

The letter quotes a statement from Dayton Daily News Publisher Doug Franklin and former Berry Co. Chief Executive Pete Luongo, coalition trustees who co-chaired the branding campaign. They said there was no conflict of interest in the Turner contract, in part because the coalition lobbies for federal funds for the community, not its own operation.

But in articles published Sunday, Feb. 10, two congressional watchdog groups were quoted as saying the contract with Lori Turner’s Turner Effect at best gives the appearance that the coalition is trying to buy political favors from Mike Turner, R- Centerville, or give the Turner household a cash infusion during an election year.

“I don’t feel they have a clue about what happens in Dayton, Ohio,” Parker said of the watchdog groups. Most of the coalition’s trustees have contributed to Turner’s political campaigns and trustee Clayton Mathile, whose foundation provided half of the branding campaign’s $1.5 million budget, is a major Turner contributor.

Coalition President and Chief Executive J.P. Nauseef has said the Turner Effect has earned more than $300,000 so far, and will be paid more during the second half of the campaign.

I added the emphasis on DDN publisher Doug Franklin- doesn’t it seem odd that the publisher would send a letter questioning the reporting of facts in his own paper- and the subsequent use of the story as basis for political bashing? The paper endorsed Jane Mitakides for Congress (while using more ink on attacking me)- and it was on her e-mail letterhead that Owens sent the complaint (because she won’t ask hard questions).

Does it seem like a back room squabble is coming to light?

Do you wonder why the DDN hasn’t gone full bore after Turner Effect for doing PAC work?

Is it odd that only Mary McCarty- a feel-good columnist actually questioned the price that the Turner Effect charged?

Leman speculated that the price tag is five times more than other firms would bill for similar services. (His firm was paid $20,000 for the branding campaign for the Dayton Convention Center.) And Leman isn’t exactly knocked out by the “Get Midwest” slogan. “When people hear about this campaign, the first reaction is, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” Leman said.

More to come on this, I’m sure.

read the Turner Effect ethics policy after the more tag… (I had to retype it, because it’s in Flash- no linking, no reading if you’re blind)

From the Turner Effect web site, on Feb 16, 2008 (it seems out of date, since Turner is now a third term congressman. Here is a link to a screen grab of just the text (I was hoping to OCR it- but no luck – had to retype) Screen grab of Turner Effect Ethics Policy on Feb 16, 2008

Turner Effect Code of Ethics Policy
Lori Turner is owner and founder of Turner Effect, a fifteen-year established marketing, research and business development firm, with 13 employees, located in downtown Dayton. Turner Effect is a well-known and award-winning Dayton area business. Since Lori Turner is the wife of two-term Congressman Mike Turner, Turner Effect has implemented the following policies to avoid any conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety.
In order to fully comply with and exceed the U.S. House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct as it pertains to ethics, Turner Effect’s policy is as follows. For further information, refer to the House Code of Official Conduct Ethics Manual, Chapter 3 (www.house.gov/ethics).
1) Turner Effect will only receive compensation for services provided.
Turner Effect invoices clients based upon detailed time and activity reporting for all professional services delivered using an electronic system. Project information is profided for clients on a monthly invoice basis or upon request at any time.
2) Turner Effect is not a registered lobbyist and as such does not work to influence legislation or federal funding under any circumstances.
Turner Effect does not provide lobbying services to influence pending or anticipated Federal legislation.
3) Turner Effect will not accept a project with any group or organization where any portion of the porject’s funding is a result of Congressman Turner’s direct involvement.
As an established professional service business, Turner Effect serves numerous clients that are eligible for and at times do receive federal funds. Turner Effect may provide services for projects that are federally funded and are unrelated to Congressman Turner’s direct involvement. However, Turner Effect will not and does not accept project assignments from clients where the project has received federal funds secured by Congressman Turner.

If you have any questions, please contact Lori Turner, President and CEO of Turner Effect, at (937) 222-8238

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