A historic press conference took place today in Ohio’s capital city, Columbus. Cliff Arnebeck, the attorney for the Ohio Honest Elections campaign, revealed that he wrote a letter to the Ohio Ethics Commission asking for a “broader ethical investigation” of Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Specifically, Arnebeck wants an investigation of the allegation by fellow Republican Matt Damschroder, Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, that Blackwell may have had a Diebold lobbyist contribute $50,000 to a political interest favored by the Secretary of State.
Also, Arnebeck wants the Ethics Commission to probe how Blackwell ended up as a multimillionaire while on the public payroll, and the effect of his minority investment in a radio company that managed to secure $2.5 million in loans from prominent banks at the same time that Blackwell was serving as state treasurer.
In yesterday’s blog, I pointed out that Blackwell and his three partners turned their initial $500,000 into a $190 million windfall within 6 years. Arnebeck is asking the obvious questions. Did people like billionaire Carl Lindner, of Chiquita Banana fame, invest and facilitate Blackwell’s rise to the top? Lindner was one of the owners of the banks that lent the initial funds to Blackwell and his three co-investors.
Whether the mainstream capital press corps will publish or pursue the story is unknown. What is on the record is that J. Kenneth Hackwell became a multimillionaire while working as a public servant. The subpoena power, if wielded correctly by the Ohio Ethics Commission, could open up a scandal as large as the “Coingate/Noe” scandal in Ohio.