For Congressman Mike Turner, “Pork Has Been a Family Affair” — Mother Jones

The latest issue of Mother Jones tells that Congressman Mike Turner “has declared himself to be a pork buster” and that he is sponsoring legislation to prohibit House and Senate members from using earmarks as a “backdoor” means to get funding for local projects. But, the magazine reports, “For Turner, pork has been a family affair. Since 2004, Turner has requested millions in earmarks for a local organization that later hired his wife, and a highway project that would benefit one of her business partners.” Excerpts from the article:

  • Turner, hit a patch of trouble earlier this year when the Dayton Daily News disclosed that his wife, Lori Turner, who owns and operates a PR company, Turner Effect, had been awarded a lucrative no-bid contract by the Dayton Development Coalition, which lobbies Congress for funding for local projects. …After the story broke, Lori Turner dropped the contract. Her firm had already been paid nearly $400,000.
  • According to tax records, the Dayton Development Coalition — many of whose members are also major Turner donors — shared an address, phone number and president with a partner organization called Development Projects, Inc. (DPI). What did not come out in the news stories was that Congressman Turner had requested $3.4 million in federal earmarks for local development that would be passed through DPI, of which about $700,000 was actually approved and disbursed.
  • Turner has received more campaign contributions from developers than from any other industry. In 2002, Lori Turner and Tom Peebles, a prominent Dayton developer and longtime Turner donor, incorporated a real estate firm called Peebles Homes of Beavercreek. Congressional ethics rules state that “interest in a limited partnership established to purchase real estate” must be revealed as part of members’ financial disclosure, but Peebles Homes did not appear on any of Turner’s filings. Turner’s spokesman says it was not reported because the real estate firm was actually a subsidiary of Turner’s wife’s company, Turner Effect.
  • In 2004, Turner won $6.75 million in earmarks for a massive new highway project south of Dayton. Foes of the project call it an assault on Dayton’s urban center, but it will be a boon for developers — including Tom Peebles
  • This past February, three weeks after the Dayton Daily News disclosed Lori Turner’s contract with the Dayton Development Coalition, her partnership with Tom Peebles was dissolved. Lori Turner says the business ended “due to market conditions.”

From Mother Jones, “Honey, I Got The Earmark,” written by Ryan Grim

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11 Responses to For Congressman Mike Turner, “Pork Has Been a Family Affair” — Mother Jones

  1. Pingback: Mother Jones takes Mike and Lori Turner out to the woodshed | Esrati

  2. Jeff says:

    Wow! This is impressive.

  3. Andy says:

    I’d rather be accused of channeling money to my friends than have Jerry Springer show up at my fundraiser.

  4. Stan Hirtle says:

    Saturday night for a Dayton Dragons game that featured a larger than usual component of honoring military families, the Dayton Development Coalition sponsored Congressman Turner’s trip to the Middle East from which, between innings, he introduced various local soldiers on the Jumbotron, who greeted their friends and families back home and cheered for the Dragons. Rep. Turner’s name was either visible on the screen or repeated orally 6 or 7 times during this favorable presentation before 8000+ local folks. His opponent for Congress of course did not get equal time.

    All of this is mostly academic because under our present political system, Turner’s party had a majority in the state legislature and was allowed to create a safe seat for him by carving out sections of Democratic Dayton and adding Republican counties to the East. Turner was then given a seat on the committee that deals with Wright Patterson Air Force base, the area’s major economic engine. Of course to get along at this level you go along, or as the late Mollie Ivins used to say, dance with them that brung you. So while the District of Turner’s predecessor, basically Mongomery County, would be a very competitive district where its Congressperson would need to stay very attuned to the concerns of voters, that is not the system we have. Ohio’s voters rejected a districting constitutional amendment that would have favored competitive districts. So I guess we like it the way it is. Barring an Edwards style sex scandal or an Abramoff/DeLay level incident of corruption, or some turnaround in the offices that draw districts, Turner is king of this district. Another old saw is that you don’t shoot at a king unless you can kill him, and while regime change in the US is less violent than when that expression was written, the concept remains valid. If you can’t change the regime then, as the “serenity prayer” said, you accept the things you can’t change and applaud Turner when he does something good, as he has with the recent mortgage bill and some local environmental concerns. Turner is of course a formidable politician, the only successful Republican within the City of Dayton in recent memory and one who gives an ear to City officials as well. He barely lost a third term as Mayor to the well entrenched McClin name, and could likely do very well in a district composed of Montgomery County despite the unpopularity of the Bush administration. Congressional elections tend to turn on local issues, voters distinguish their Congressional representative from the rest of Congress and “Washington”, and even in the 2006 Congressional election that was perceived as about “change” 94% of incumbents were reelected.

    Individual political leaders generally play the power cards they are dealt and try to change the rules of the game in their favor. The people need to insist on institutional integrity or it will be lost. The underlying issue is a basic one of democracy. It is a failure of separation of powers when politicians are able to draw districts and essentially choose voters instead of voters choosing their leaders. The other big democracy issue is the role of money and politics, which essentially replaces people democracy with money democracy, gives people with money much more say in how the country is run than people without it, and limits the options that are “on the table” for dealing with societal problems like foreclosures, health care and energy. People either do not know what to do about these democracy issues, think nothing can be done that is worth the risk and energy of trying to change the rules, or think that alternatives are scarier than living with what we have. Until these are overcome, we will have a system of safe seats and a higher tolerance for the level of self dealing that prevails in today’s politics, and probably also the low level of public satisfaction with how politics works. Another old saw, true despite the complexety of our system, is that we get the kind of government that we deserve.

  5. Mike Bock says:

    Stan, regardless of Mike Turner’s advantages in the 3rd District, that you point out, this year could be the year for a Democrat to win in the 3rd District. A Democrat should win, because, in general, the Republicans, based on their performance, deserve to lose. The question is whether this campaign will be successful in educating the public. As I posted here in March, it seems to me that Mitakides must center her campaign on making a compelling case for change. She needs to sharpen her message and there’s abundant ways for her to do so. She needs to show graphically how Mike Turner, through his votes and passivity has empowered gross Republican incompetence, Republican pandering to the wealthy and big corporations, Republican corruption. Turner is thoroughly identified with George W. Bush and Republican policies and shares the blame of Congress’ utter failure of oversight. We’ve gone $3 trillion in debt under this Republican administration — and Mike Turner, because he marched lock step with the Republican Congress, should be held accountable.

    Mitakides’ web site, makes this statement: “A just-completed poll by top national firm Lake Research Partners shows 57% of voters in Ohio’s Third Congressional District ‘will not vote to reelect’ incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Turner, strongly positioning Jane Mitakides in her bid for election to the U.S. Congress.”

    The web-site also notes, “This district voted for Dem Senate challenger Sherrod Brown over incumbent Republican Mike DeWine in 2006, despite the fact that DeWine is from the Dayton area.” And, “The balance of registrations went from 58,178 Democratic vs. 78,799 GOP before the 2008 primary to a whopping advantage of 128,793 registered Democrats vs. 80,932 GOP as of the end of May. In other words, the district went from a 20,000 voter GOP registration advantage to a 48,000 Dem advantage.”

  6. Jeff says:

    This Mother Jones article is a bit of mystery as it’s not in the current issue on the news stand (August issue) nor is it on the websiste.

    Be that as it may, that MJ publishes an expose of a Dayton congressman reminds me of the zen koan: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?”

    By this I mean who in Dayton reads MJ, or has even heard of it? And if they have would they give credence to an article published in a left wing journal of opinion from San Francisco (boo hiss)?

    I’ts as if this article was never published at all.

  7. Jeff says:

    I did like that account by Stan on the Dragon event. It was so delicious if you know the back-story..

    DDC pays for Turner to be with the troops, and pay for Turners campaigns, too, and he earmarks defense programs for Dayton, The event is at a game hosted by a team owned by Mandalay, who are partnering with RG Enterprises on a sports complex at Austin Road. The principle of RG is a major contributor to Turner, who earmarks Austin Road improvements, which are necessary to make RG’s developements viable.

    Nice nice, all part of the same device.

  8. Mike Bock says:

    The Mother Jones article about Mike Turner appears in the September issue that is just now being released. Subscribers to Mother Jones get each issue before the news stands do. A friend e-mailed me a xeroxed copy of the article.

  9. Jeff says:

    Ah, I see, thanks.

  10. Pingback: Mike “teflon” Turner denys wife’s business is a slush fund | Esrati

  11. Fred says:

    Stan mentions Turner’s appointment to a commitee that deals with Wright Paterson AFB. Does this include the AFB Museum Board of Managers, complete with Turner’s law firm Faruki and Rep Hobson. Look who else is on the list and tell me they aren’t chopping up big pork sandwiches:

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