DDN throws softball at Turner Effect: Clients include PACs

Last night at the Greater Dayton Advertising Association Hermes awards, the proof that Lori Turner’s firm is nothing but a slush fund was sitting right in front of me, and I didn’t take a picture:

Bronze in Sales Promotion Turner Effect,
Advertiser // Home Depot PAC,
Title // Home Depot PAC Communications Kit

Here it is on the winners site.

So in todays Dayton Daily News, it’s pretty obvious that the direct connection between Political Action Committees and Lori Turner’s firm is not deniable:

Turner says she has turned down clients because of ties to husband
DAYTON — Lori Turner’s marketing company has been in business for 15 years and has had 250 individual clients. For ethical reasons, she has occasionally turned down clients who have dealings with her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner.”I’ll say, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you,’ but I’ll refer them to someone else,” she said.

The fact that Turner Effect gouged the Dayton Development Coalition for almost $750,000 so far on the “Get Midwest/Be Midwest” campaign was also treated with kid gloves- if the coalition had put the contract up for bids, they could have hired any number of companies to do the work- in fact, that was the theme of the Hermes awards show last night “Great Creative Happens Here.” But, since most of the funders of the DDC are also supporters of Mike Turner- like former Iams owner, Clay Mathile, who cares if they got overcharged.

You can’t expect County Commissioner Dan Foley to make a stink about it either, since Mathile also funded his campaign.

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, a Democrat, said, “The coalition can hire whom they deem appropriate, and I have no problem with that. Our biggest focus needs to be getting behind the (branding) message. I’m supportive of it and I’m going to be part of making it work.”

When the DDN writer, Tom Beyerlein, interviewed me, he knew that I was in the ad business as well as a candidate, making me a little more aware than the average source on the price of branding efforts in Dayton. That part was omitted, I’m just a candidate, but when you compare how I answer, and how Jane Mitakides answers, you start to see the difference in the fight in the dog:

“The Turner Effect has been nothing but a slush fund and a workaround for Mike Turner ever since he was elected mayor,” said David Esrati, who is running in the Democratic primary for the right to challenge Turner in the November election. “It’s awfully odd (the coalition) chose the Turner Effect, but if you see Turner’s donors and the coalition board members, there’s a lot of overlap.”

Another Democrat in the race, Jane Mitakides, said: “I think it’s very interesting that they knew this could be a conflict, talked about it and awarded it anyway. It does seem problematic that they would recognize the implications and move ahead anyway on a no-bid contract.”

Overlap is an understatement. I suggested to Beyerlein to do a comparison between Turner Effect Clients, and Mike Turner Donors. Just with the Mathile Family Foundation, Kettering Medical Network, Miami-Jacobs Career College and The University of Dayton law school, you see lots of money flowing from contributors directly into the Turner house in Stone Lake behind the iron gates.

There was another thing glossed over in the THREE articles about this in today’s paper:

Questions raised about branding contract for U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s wife

Dayton Development Coalition has paid a firm owned by Lori Turner $300,000 so far.

The coalition is comprised of some of the area’s top business and educational leaders and is funded by private, state and local public funds. It’s officially nonpartisan, but most of the coalition’s trustees have contributed to Mike Turner’s political campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission records.

I added the bold for funded by state and local public funds. Of course, they will say no public money was used in this campaign, however to award the contract NO BID smacks of exactly the kind of work around the principles of full financial disclosure by candidates.

But even if you aren’t incensed about who did the work on no bid, how much was spent, and how the money is being pumped into the Turner’s personal bank account, you have to look at the net result: The campaign isn’t even about the Dayton region, it’s about the entire “Midwest” of which we’re a speck, with a small budget left to actually spread the word after Turner Effect and Real Art used up $750,000 on the idea, and only left 1.25mill to run a campaign. Compare this to the traditional ad agency model (which wasn’t any smarter) of agencies do work for 15% of the media buy paid for by discounts given by the media firms for agencies handling the clients.

Turner burned through 37% of the total budget to come up with a campaign that in the words of branding experts:

Will Dayton coalition’s brand attract business?

Some marketing specialists doubt it, saying the message isn’t specific to Dayton or its history.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Jack Trout, principal of Trout & Partners, a Greenwich, Conn., marketing strategy firm that serves Fortune 500 companies. “You put an ad out there and say, ‘I want you to come here.’ That’s obvious … I’d much rather hear or see important news about what’s happening in the area.”

Branding campaigns must deliver a focused and comprehensible message to attract consumers, said Shashi Matta, an Ohio State University assistant professor of marketing.

“What’s missing for me when I look at this logo is, ‘What is it telling me?'” Matta said. “It needs to be specific to Dayton. ‘Think Midwest,’ ‘Be Midwest’ or ‘Get Midwest’ is way too broad for Dayton.'”

Which is exactly what we’ve been saying since it launched on this site, on Dayton Most Metro on DaytonOS and even on the Dayton Daily News site.

As a candidate, I can tell you that running for office is sucking every last bit of energy from me, and consequently, my business has not gotten my full attention. I’m used to working until 11 or midnight on my clients, and now, all time after 7pm is spent on the campaign. I’m months behind on getting invoices out and my cash flow is suffering. It’s quite a bit different for the Turners. I can guarantee, with the steady flow of donor money into Lori Turners firm, work from PACs and even Government contracts (The Turner Effect has a GSA schedule, and does work for:

Turner Effect for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Shore Protection Assessment Beach Nourishment Educational Booklet

it’s easy to see why OH-3 isn’t even considered winnable by the Democrats. To me, the $160,000 (soon to be $170,000) is more than enough to take care of my obligations without having to pad my pockets with donor and PAC cash. However, since I have no plans to be a career politician, I will have to keep my agency alive if I was elected to Congress. I can assure voters that not only would we never do work for PACs but, I would believe that government contracts are also off limits for the time I’m in office, as well as at least a year following my leaving office.

The Turners have no such qualms. I guess we’re beginning to see the real meaning of the “Turner Effect”- which is nothing but a code word for getting the best politicians money can buy.

[note: I first asked this question in Jul 07, long before I was going to run for Congress:

Dayton Daily News misses the “relative” slush-fund but it took the DDN until the DDC showcased the lame “Get Midwest” campaign before it mattered to them]

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