State treasurer defends spending $1.84M in public money on TV ads

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel says his decision to spend $1.84 million in public funds on a TV ad promoting a new investment program for people with disabilities was required by law.

Indeed, the Ohio General Assembly mandated that the treasurer “develop marketing plans and promotional materials to publicize the program.” But the law doesn’t specify that Mandel had to star in the ad himself, just months before announcing that he is running for U.S. Senate in 2018.

“Now that Josh Mandel’s been caught spending $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars to promote himself he’s desperately attempting to explain away his latest scandal yet still refusing to answer key questions such as why did he spend the money in a way that required no transparency or oversight? Why did he feel the need to star in the ads and run them so often right before he announced his senate race?” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger.

RELATED: Ohio treasurer ran state-funded ads just before announcing Senate run

Mandel maintains that the spending was done in a transparent manner: he held a press conference in June announcing the marketing program. His office correctly noted that the Dayton Daily New did not cover that particular press conference.

He also notes that records of the ad buys are publicly posted online. The individual purchases, though, fell below the $50,000 threshold for requiring approval from Ohio Controlling Board.

The Dayton Daily News found that other states opted to advertise the new program, called STABLE Accounts, via outreach to advocacy groups — not a statewide TV ad campaign.

Mandel defended the decision, saying getting out the word statewide is important. “Nearly everyone knows someone who lives with a disability and by increasing awareness amongst all Ohioans, this important message can be spread far and wide,” Mandel’s press office said.


Cursive handwriting could be required for Ohio students again 
Right-to-work push under way in Ohio 

What do you want Gov. Kasich to do in 2017? 

A look at President Trump’s first month in office

Matt Cox, a Columbus lobbyist and political consultant, said he believes Mandel’s efforts to advertise the STABLE Accounts program were genuine good government.

“The hardest thing for parents of disabled kids is access to information, especially state programs. Those ads informed medical providers, parents, relatives, accountants and lawyers of a program they can reference to someone,” said Cox, who’s son has disabilities. Cox and his wife worked to pass the state law authorizing the Ohio program.

The treasurer also pointed to other Ohio officeholders staring in public service advertisements, including:

* Gov. John Kasich appearing in 2012 in a 30-second spot encouraging victims of human trafficking to call a hotline, 

* Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted pushing absentee ballot voting in 2016, 

* former Gov. Ted Strickland in 2009 teaming up with Elmo from Sesame Street in federally funded radio ads to encourage Ohioans to get flu shots, 

* former Attorney General Marc Dann appearing in radio ads about a reward for tips on illegal dog fighting.

Mandel also pointed to a public service ad campaign staring Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor that ran in 2015. Ohio spent $170,000 in federal grant money on television ads featuring Taylor encouraging seniors to sign up for Medicare.

RELATED: Ads that feature Taylor paid with public money

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said at the time: “This is someone who has a history of using tax dollars to promote her own political profile. As auditor, she was particularly fond of using tax dollars to advertise her own name. This is especially cynical. These are dollars that are clearly given out to states to help Ohio seniors and instead she is using them to help herself politically.”

Illinois law prohibits using the likeness of a statewide elected officeholder in publicly funded ads.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

39 people indicted in Butler and Warren counties
39 people indicted in Butler and Warren counties

Grand juries, which meet in secret, review criminal charges brought by police and prosecutors and investigate possible criminal behavior. The proceedings are usually one-sided, because the accused is not present and witnesses are not cross-examined. PHOTOS: Look who’s been booked in the Butler County Jail A grand...
Experts: Cash clinics divert treatment drugs to Springfield streets
Experts: Cash clinics divert treatment drugs to Springfield streets

Office-based opioid treatment centers that accept only cash to prescribe recovery medications such as Suboxone are hindering treatment and diverting dangerous medications to the street in Clark County and across Ohio, experts said. But the clinics provide a necessary service for some patients who don’t have time for more extensive counseling...
Are you excellent at drinking beer? Channel your inner Olympian at this local event
Are you excellent at drinking beer? Channel your inner Olympian at this local event

There’s a good chance that you’ve been lounging on the couch the past few weeks, watching the most athletic people in the world accomplish the impossible and wondering if you could reach that caliber in, well, anything.  >> Dayton Ladies, can you handle the heat at this local Ghost Pepper competition? We’re here to...
This local comic shop just expanded to take over 3 storefronts
This local comic shop just expanded to take over 3 storefronts

A local comic book and game store has gotten a much-needed makeover. Bell Book and Comic, which has been located at 458 Patterson Road in Patterson Park Plaza for nearly 15 years, recently expanded into a third space.  The shop had already annexed another storefront two doors down in 2011 and was using that space as a gaming area.  ...
Troy lays out plans for finding new school superintendent
Troy lays out plans for finding new school superintendent

TROY - The Troy City Schools Board of Education will begin interviewing superintendent candidates March 19 following an application and recruiting process that included a community meeting last week for input on characteristics desired in the next district leader. K-12 Business Consulting Inc. of New Albany is working with the board of education in...
More Stories