The Ohio Attorney says it’s fine for the state treasurer – a fellow Republican - to conduct telephone town hall meetings using a private vendor. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, Democrats say this could lead to misuse of taxpayer money.
It’s an election year. And Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern believes Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel will use these publicly funded telephone town hall meetings this year to further his own campaign.
“From the day he became treasurer, Josh Mandel has been singularly focused on using his office for his own personal political gain," Redfern said. "And this most recent requested and received opinion from the attorney general is proof positive that Josh Mandel will try to use the taxpayers and their dollars any way he can.”
Mandel was unavailable for comment but a spokesperson says the town halls are about expanding access to constituents and empowering citizens.
While talking to Attorney General Mike DeWine, he emphasized that his office only issued an opinion which serves to answer the legality of these telephone town halls. In his written opinion, DeWine warns that these meetings cannot be used to promote Mandel's candidacy.
Republicans hold the top five state offices and control the House and Senate. Redfern says this decision would open the gates to allow any state leader to hold a taxpayer-paid telephone town hall. But he says he’ll but he will urge every Democratic incumbent candidate to avoid holding them because it sends the wrong message.