December 12th, 2008 By | News | Posted In: News, 2008 Election

County Politics, Republican Style

Anyone familiar with Hamilton County government knows that a large segment of the jobs are essentially political appointments, given to cronies of whichever party controls the particular office doing the hiring.

Still, the political quid pro quo is usually kept somewhat discreet and hidden from public view. Not his time.

In a letter distributed today to the Republican judges who dominate the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, a worker in the county’s Probation Department reminded them of all the work she’s done for various GOP campaigns as the main reason she should fill an upcoming vacancy that will be decided by the judges.

The one-page letter is written by Probation Office Supervisor Gwendolyn DaCons Taylor, who lobbies to become the county’s assistant chief probation officer. That job was previously held by Republican Patricia Clancy, who left it after being elected Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in November.

Clancy left her previous position as a state senator to begin a complicated, “musical chairs” style series of moves among GOP elected officials who wanted to run for different offices other than the ones they held. State Rep. Bill Seitz filled Clancy’s state senate seat, while Clancy ran for Clerk of Courts once Greg Hartmann decided to run for county commissioner.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to follow up with all of you providing this information regarding all of my volunteer work hours with the most recent campaigns,” Taylor writes.

She then lists six GOP candidates and the specific work she did for each of their campaigns this past fall. They include successful candidates like Common Pleas Court Judge Pat DeWine, Clerk of Courts Patricia Clancy, County Commissioner Greg Hartmann and Congresswoman Jean Schmidt; and unsuccessful candidates like Municipal Court Judge Russell Mock, who tried to jump to Common Pleas Court, and Congressman Steve Chabot, a longtime incumbent who lost a re-election bid.

The letter mentions time spent marching in parades, distributing campaign literature and staffing phone banks, among other activities.

“I did the very best I could to help serve all of our candidates, and I just wanted all of you to be aware of my efforts,” Taylor writes. “It is my hope that I will be given the opportunity to perform some of the administrative responsibilities that will be left when Ms. Patricia Clancy leaves our Probation Department. I am willing to perform the duties at my current salary as a means to save money until such time as we can all receive a pay raise.”

One potential stumbling block: Blatant political payback for campaign work likely is illegal.

As attorney Jan Witold Baran writes on the FindLaw online legal library, federal law prohibits gifts of any sort that are given or received as a quid pro quo for official acts. Moreover, gifts may be illegal gratuities if they are given with the expectation of favorable action by the public official on pending or future matters.

It’s unclear, though, if Taylor’s campaign work would fall into that category. But it sure smells funny.

12.14.2008 at 10:35 Reply
Wasn't David Pepper's Chief of Staff Bridget Doherty a paid Pepper campaign worker? Didn't Todd Portune's Chief of Staff Kathy Binns manage Todd's Commissioner campaign? I guess their political campaign work had nothing to do with them getting their jobs. That rule must only apply to Republicans.


12.15.2008 at 09:58 Reply
You can probably total the number of Dems who have done this on two hands. The number of Republicans throughout county govt. is in the hundreds.


12.16.2008 at 03:33
What does that have to do with anything Average Joe? The fact is that David Pepper is a hypocrite and he should practice what he preaches. Using Average Joe's logic it's no big deal if someone commits one murder because there are lots of people who commit multiple murders out there.


12.16.2008 at 10:27 Reply
Since Ms. Taylor also supported Barrak Obama, I believe her political loyaties are spread wherever it suits her


12.16.2008 at 11:48 Reply
Simon Leis' daughter will get this job....just wait and see.


12.17.2008 at 07:58 Reply
This unethical practice has been going on for years, it is surprising that local media have not called them on it in the past. Of course no one ever put it into writing before like Ms. Taylor did. It was always done with a wink and a nod. It is well known that many promotions and raises are given to those who do favors, political or otherwise, for decision makers. This has been especially true in the probation department. It will be interesting to see, in this time of financial trouble, if they continue to monetarily reward political hacks while laying off others with a straight face and a clean conscience If indeed Ms. Leis would get this job, I would hope someone would look at this situation very closely. It is inherently unfair, unethical, and a bad deal for taxpayers who should expect more for their dollars.


12.17.2008 at 03:42
"Community Service" has been done at his other daughters house to prepare the place for political fund raisers. Wish I could get them to do the landscaping at my house! Everyone in county government is intimidated by Simon Leis and will not stand up to him.