Saturday, October 06, 2007

Same story - two perspectives

Thursday, Eye on the Statehouse had an entry about Attorney General Marc Dann's 'scramble' to respond to an Associated Press public records request regarding contributions to his campaign from lawyers who have contracts with his office. (Link on their website to the article no longer works so the article is reprinted below.)

And then today, The Blade had this article about the subject, taking a local angle approach to the reporting. Both stories mention the same Sandusky attorney.

What struck me was the difference between these two articles and the impression I was left with after reading each of them.

I'm curious and so my questions to you:

1) What is your impression after reading both of the stories?

2) Did reading these two stories bring you to different conclusions about the AG's office?

3) Do you see bias - or spin - in either, or both, of them?

Please let me know.

Lawyers' paperwork on limiting campaign contributions arrives late
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press

Columbus- Well over half the lawyers required to limit their campaign contributions to Attorney General Marc Dann in order to qualify for state work didn't fill out the required paperwork until this month, long after the office began doling out contracts, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The cap on donations to Dann, the state's top lawyer, stemmed from a law he championed as a state senator and later used as a centerpiece of his 2006 campaign that sought to curb the role of donations in the awarding of state contracts.

Fifty of the affidavits by outside lawyers who have landed state legal work came in on a single day, Sept. 12, after Dann's office faced scrutiny from lawmakers over two of the contracts. Twenty-nine others were submitted after a records request was made by The Associated Press, many bearing the marks of fax machines from around the country.

Ben Espy, an executive attorney general who oversees outside legal contracts for Dann, conceded that the office went out and collected the affidavits after public interest arose.

"The agreement they must sign advising them of the rules for outside counsel contains everything that's in the affidavit. So there is some overlap there," Espy said. "But after we got these requests we just decided we should have them on file."

Altogether, 126 of the 194 affidavits clearing attorneys to do special-counsel work were filed in September, and 97 came over five days surrounding the most recent meeting of the contract-approving State Controlling Board, documents show. A staff member for the board had also requested copies of the affidavits, said Dann spokeswoman Michelle Gatchell.

In the affidavit, a lawyer agrees that no legal partner, spouse or child of the firm will give more than $1,000 to the Dann for Ohio campaign over two years. Beginning Jan. 1, all those firm associates plus their political action committees will be limited to $2,000 collectively over two years.

In at least three cases, lawyers signing the affidavit made changes. Kevin Zuheir of Erie County inserted a parenthetical statement in bold: "On November 1, 2006 I donated a total of $2,500.00 to Dann for Ohio in my name and in the name of my spouse, Cathy Grespin Zeiher."

Another lawyer, Richard J. Erickson of Frost, Brown & Todd in Cincinnati crossed out the phrase "within the two previous calendar years."

The contract of a third law firm, Beveridge & Diamond, was put on hold by the Controlling Board because it had crossed out a section of its contract

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