COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio law firm has raised up to $ 10,000 on behalf of John Kasich’s founding committee to gain access to tickets for the new Republican governor’s inaugural party next week.
But tickets for the event have been available on NewDayOhio.com, Kasich’s official opening website, for about a month now for $ 150 per person or $ 250 per couple, with no additional fees or dues required.
Roetzel & Andress had a full page on their website dated December 2, 2010 on Tuesday that said those who had not contributed at least $ 1,000 to Kasich’s gubernatorial run would have to raise between $ 1,000 and $ 10,000 to become official Sponsoring the gala has the privilege of purchasing tickets. The official website was not mentioned.
The law firm cleared the website at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday after The Plain Dealer inquired about it, according to Matt Borges, who was hired as the firm’s government relations director last month, around the same time he was selected by Kasich to be the executive director of the firm Founding committees.
Kasich campaign officials said they were unaware of the law firm’s request for contributions, saying the company is not acting on behalf of the governor-elect.
Kasich spokesman Scott Milburn said the opening events were open to the public and tickets can only be requested on the official website. “Anyone who says otherwise is stupid and wrong,” he said.
Doug Preisse, chairman of the founding committee, also denied involvement in the sale of gala tickets through the company.
“I am not responsible for what a private law firm says and I am inaccurate,” Preisse said. “To me, I think it sounds like they’re trying to be helpful. It doesn’t sound mischievous or nefarious. I take it as benign.”
The link between the company and Kasich’s founding committee is Borges – a longtime GOP political agent and a former chief of staff to former state treasurer Joe Deters, who was embroiled in pay-to-play allegations in 2004.
Borges pleaded guilty to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court of acting in public for an offense relating to the preferential treatment of certain brokers who helped Deters’ re-election campaign. He paid a $ 1,000 fine and was later granted cancellation.
Since then, Borges has worked with prominent Republican politicians, including Senator John McCain in his 2008 presidential election, and led the successful campaign of Ohio-elected accountant David Yost that year. Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine greeted Borges in a law firm press release, saying, “Nobody has done more this year to help all of our federal, state and federal candidates.”
Borges said that neither he nor the founding committee knew about the company’s website until he received a call from The Plain Dealer. However, Borges recalled an email circulated last month by a colleague that contained essentially the same requests for Kasich contributions for gala ticket purchases.
Borges said Preisse also knew about the email. Borges added that he tried to prevent the information from being spread and was surprised that its content ended up on the company’s website.
“What happened was that someone in-house probably took something out of the email and added some web content,” said Borges. “And it was wrong.”
Borges says the friend who sent the email was Dan Hilson, a partner with the company. A receptionist said Hilson was out of the office this week when The Plain Dealer tried to reach out to him for comment.
Five lawyers from Roetzel & Andress are listed on the website as contact persons for further information on the gala tickets. One was Hilson. Another was Jim Petro, the former Republican attorney general and accountant. He’s not in the office this week either. Another was Lewis Adkins Jr., who works out of the company’s Cleveland office.
“I didn’t actually write that,” Adkins said of the website. “I assume everything we put out was in line with the campaign.” He referred Borge’s questions.
Borges said he did not know how many people Kasich could have donated to get tickets or how long the page was on the company’s website, even though it was launched in early December.
The gala takes place on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The simple dealer reporter Aaron Marshall contributed to this story.