There are only two reasons Mike Foley is the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts: Russ Joseph wasn’t the political genius he thought he was, and Mike shares the same name as Judge Patrick Foley and his son Dan Foley- who had served this community honorably for decades.
Mike copied Dan’s signs- and let the ignorance of the electorate pick a known name. Voila.
Out of the gate he did some things that weren’t normal- like hiring a Democrat as one of the bosses (that was John McManus, who then flipped to the R side and is now the Treasurer). He also did the normal “friends and family” thing and hired his campaign manager, and wife of his best friend as his administrative assistant.
Neither Foley, or his assistant, Elle Sollenberger, seemed overly concerned with actual work in their positions. Foley hired Herb Davis to run the office when he wasn’t there. Herb is one of those folks that seems to float from one cushy government job to another without having to work very hard. The Montgomery County Veteran’s Service Commission (full disclosure: for which my firm, The Next Wave does some work for) has been working hard to reverse years of phoning it in by 10 years of Herb and a few of his successor.
Neither Foley nor Sollenberger made it into the office more than 3 days a week. But, the problem was that when they were in, they thought it was OK to conduct their side businesses in the office. Sollenberger was frequently gabbing it up on her cell phone as the Disney Vacation princess. Foley was working his side gigs as well. As a Realtor with Glass House Real Estate, Mike even had agents from his office calling in for legal advice from the in-house counsel under Mike.
Their antics of using public property/resources/time for their personal side hustles had gotten the attention of the nearly petrified republican king maker wannabe Danny Hamilton, who actually sat down with some of Mikes employees to ask them to advise Foley to reel in both Sollenberger’s and his behavior.
This resulted in the termination of 2 trusted employees: Tyler Starline, Esq. who was the chief of HR, and Christy Ahrens being terminated.
There was already a hostile work environment inside the clerks office, caused by pressure for employees to tithe to his campaign. Word was that Sollenberger, when she wasn’t doing the Disney vacation thing, was running copies and working on campaign stuff to boot.
There’s been a huge increase in a “Marketing budget” by both the Clerk’s office and the Treasurers office. Some of this may be due to the forward thinking McManus knowing that most people in the county don’t think of either the Clerk of Courts or the Treasurer in the best light- and since they don’t get to stick stickers on gas pumps like the Auditor- being out in the community with “Help Centers” and spending money on year round ads on stations like K-99 help keep the name in front of voters.
Foley hired at least two people to go out and talk about the clerks office daily. This is something that the County should be doing- not individual offices. (Full disclosure, my firm designed and printed banners stands for this effort back in 2019).
Foley has also made a few odd hires- starting out a few years ago when Sarah Greathouse moved into the Board of Elections, he bailed long time Dem Cathie Merkle out of the basement dwellers office. Just a month ago, he hired former BOE Director Steve Harsman, after he completed his top secret/SCI no public record of his contract- with the Board of Elections to play around with the precinct lines in Montgomery County for $150K plus. His contract is part of the reason I’ve sued the BOE for Sunshine Law violations (a story the Dayton Daily newsless refuses to acknowledge).
What voters might be most interested to find out is how many times Mike Foley has been sued as a bad debtor. Since 1994 there are at least 6 lawsuits- you can look them up on his own site: https://pro.mcohio.org/ Look for Michael J Foley.
The fact that he barely puts in a 3 day workweek is actually legal. If you remember the former Republican County Recorder Joy Clark, you’ll remember she only came in the office about once every three months– which is all that’s required by state statute. However, Sollenberger, as a salaried employee is a different matter. On her attendance alone, Foley should be in trouble.
I’ve questioned why we elect a clerk of courts in Ohio- and the lack of qualifications to be one. You can read a lot of the background in this 2020 post I put up: “Why do we elect a Clerk of Courts? And how much is the ransom to get a competent one?“
The State Auditor released a one page statement on the raid and identified only the campaign connected violations. That the Clerk’s office is the only one being raided is a joke- this is common practice in almost every elected leaders public office in Montgomery County- go look at the fundraisers for both parties, and to judges campaigns. You want to keep your job- you tithe. The County Prosecutor, Mat Heck is the master of this game.
The Dayton Daily newsless has a quote of new Dem Party Chair Mohamed Al-Hamdani with his fake contrition. He’s just as guilty- and he was one of the first people fired by Foley when Foley took over from Mohamed’s patron saint Russ Joseph. The star investigative “reporter” failed to make that connection for you. But, that’s why you read esrati.com.
The fact that Herb Davis told the news that Foley had hired Rion and Rion to defend him, should be a clear indication that they knew this was coming. Of course, Mr. Rion often represents high profile cases up until the plea is entered and he’s got the free press- but then often doesn’t continue representation.
Mat Heck claimed he was taken by surprise by this, which is of course, no big news. Mat Heck can’t identify crimes unless you are black, poor or a political threat to him. He refused to investigate Dr. Adil Baguirov for not living in the Dayton School District while on the board, he didn’t investigate or charge and Montgomery County Sheriffs department officials for pepper spraying inmates.
The reality is, Foley being forced out of office won’t really do anything to change things up. The Republican party will just pick another unqualified person to take over until the next election. We already know that white people, like newly elected Juvenile Court Judge Julie Brun’s husband – can commit crimes at the expense of the public- and get their wrist slapped – no more. And, if you are connected with the party- like former Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams or Roshawn Winburn- you’ll get short prison time- or no prison time, at least until you take naughty pictures of juveniles like Roshawn did.
To fully understand how crappy of a human being Mike Foley is, realize that Tyler Starline has been working there for a couple of years- and had offered legal advice to protect Foley. Instead of being allowed to resign and collect his vacation and sick time, and maintain some integrity- Foley fired him. The kicker? Starline’s wife just died in September- leaving him as a single dad, with no health insurance.
If there is a special place for crappy, self-serving, pompous politicians- Foley’s headed there fast.
If the republicans actually cared about straightening out their mess, they’d replace Foley with McManus who is a lawyer and has years of experience working in the Franklin County Clerk’s office before his stint in Foley’s office. Then, name someone else to be treasurer. The Clerk’s office pays better than the Treasurers office does, so McManus would make more- and McManus can be trusted and could easily be re-elected.
To this day, I’ll still wonder why we elect a clerk of courts in the first place. Chief file cabinet master? We don’t elect librarians do we? And most of them actually have a degree. The fact that these are cesspools of political patronage is another reason to stop this non-sense, but, then, the parties wouldn’t have as many people to extort to fund their little private clubs.