Senators Call On Treasurer Mandel To Explain Taxpayer-Funded Ad Campaign
Mandel dodged questions today by skipping budget hearing
May 09, 2017
 
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Columbus—Today, the Democratic members of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on General Government and Agency Review sent a letter to State Treasurer Josh Mandel to formally ask him to testify in person before the committee.  Mandel failed to show up today for a scheduled hearing to explain the questionable spending practices in his office. He instead sent a deputy to speak on his behalf.

“The citizens of Ohio deserve an explanation from Treasurer Mandel about his nearly $2 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign,” said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights).  “If he had a last minute scheduling conflict we are more than willing to give him another opportunity to explain himself.”

The Treasurer of State’s office paid for the expensive television campaign in installments of less than $50,000.  That meant the spending avoided the need for approval by the State Controlling Board.  As a consequence, the House of Representatives recently approved a budget amendment to strengthen accountability requirements for spending on advertising.

Here is a copy of the letter:

Dear Treasurer Mandel,

We write to formally request your presence before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on General Government and Agency Review to testify on House Bill 49, the operating budget for FY 2018-2019.  As you are no doubt aware, the House amended HB 49 to include a provision regarding the expenditure of state tax dollars for advertising.  Specifically, the amendment “requires Controlling Board approval of any advertising purchased by a state governmental entity for the same purpose that, in the aggregate, exceeds $50,000 during the fiscal year.”  The Columbus Dispatch referred to this change in the budget as the “Mandel Amendment” because it is apparently a response to actions taken by your office.

The Treasurer of State’s office recently spent nearly $2 million on a statewide advertising campaign in which you played a prominent role. Under current law, an expenditure of less than $50,000 does not require Controlling Board approval and there is no limit on the number of expenditures that can fall below this threshold. It appears the media buys for your advertising campaign were structured in such a way as to avoid the oversight of the State Controlling Board since each of the individual expenditures cost just under $50,000. 

As members of the subcommittee now charged with reviewing budget requests by state agencies and offices, we believe it is necessary for you testify in person to clarify the past and current spending practices at the Treasurer of State’s office.  This information will help us better serve the citizens of Ohio as we work to protect tax dollars through strong accountability and transparency.

Please contact the chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Kris Jordan, to schedule your appearance at the earliest possible date. 

Respectfully,

Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko 

Senator Michael Skindell

Senator Sean O’Brien 

 
 
 
  
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