Who contributed the most?


On the side

Taping calls? Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras’ taped voicemail from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, on Air Force One at the time, left some local Democrats concerned the chairman is taping their calls.

Betras played the beginning portion of the Brown call at last week’s Democratic precinct committee meeting.

Betras said he didn’t speak to Brown when the call came and he kept the voicemail because it was special. The chairman said he doesn’t tape telephone conversations.

GOP picnic dinner: The Trumbull County Republican Party will have a picnic dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. July 8 at a Mahoning Valley Scrappers game at Eastwood Field in Niles. Tickets are $20 and include a picnic dinner, a box seat to the game and a Scrappers hat.

Reservations can be made by calling Robert at 330-883-4744, Kathi at 330-979-0477 or Trumbull GOP headquarters at 330-544-1370. Payment is due Wednesday.

Post-primary campaign finance reports during odd-year elections typically are a bit dull.

But the most recent reports had a couple of interesting contributors: J.J. Cafaro and Jerry Springer.

In Mahoning County, there were only five Democratic primary races on the May ballot as well as tax levies. Also, political parties had to file financial reports.

As expected, there wasn’t a lot of money spent during the primaries on Youngstown and Struthers council races.

There were six candidates in the Youngstown council 5th Ward Democratic primary, and only three of them raised or spent at least $1,000 during the post-primary time-frame of April 14 and June 3.

Among those three was former state Rep. Sylvester D. Patton Jr., who finished second among the six candidates.

Regular readers of this column know that over the years I’ve criticized Patton for various issues. Despite that, Patton always has a smile on his face when he sees me and often mentions that he’s sure I’ll write about him again.

Surprise! [Not really.]

I was at the Mahoning County Board of Elections when Patton came in to file his post-primary report. He was talking about the influence of money in politics as I looked at his report.

Patton raised $2,750 between April 14 and June 3. Of that amount, $2,500 came from Cafaro, who gave Patton the money on April 21.

That was the single largest contribution to a candidate in Mahoning County so far this year.

For those not paying attention, Cafaro has twice been convicted by the federal government related to him improperly giving money to those involved in politics.

The first was in 2002 for conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official. He gave $13,000 in cash as well as things of value to then-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr, between 1997 and 2000 to help his aerospace company.

The second was last year for making a false statement regarding a $10,000 loan he gave in 2004 to the campaign manager of his daughter’s congressional campaign.

So why would Patton take money from a two-time convicted felon?

Patton said Cafaro is a longtime friend who has never given him an illegal contribution or asked him to do anything illegal or improper.

Party contributor

As for Springer, the $5,000 he gave to the county Democratic Party made him the biggest overall contributor during the post-primary period.

Springer, host of one of TV’s most outrageous talk shows, was the guest speaker at the party’s April 14 hall of fame dinner.

A week before the dinner, county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said, “I understand he’s a little edgy, but he flies his own plane to the event and writes a nice check” to the party.

Betras is correct.

The $5,000 from Springer is 40 percent of the $12,475 the party raised during the post-primary reporting period.

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