The GOP says Ohio's Democratic governor has taken nearly $1.5 million in campaign money from those with ties to the financial industry while attacking the Wall Street ties of his Republican rival.
State Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine and Republican legislative leaders called Gov. Ted Strickland a hypocrite for taking the cash. Strickland has made Republican challenger John Kasich's time as a high-salaried managing director at the failed Lehman Brothers investment bank a theme of his campaign.
"It turns out in addition to being a great critic of the financial industry, Ted Strickland has been a great beneficiary of the financial industry," DeWine said.
The party released a binder full of what they dubbed Strickland's undisclosed "love affair" with Wall Street, which included the contributions, details of several Ohio bond deals with Lehman or its successor Barclays Capital, and $25,000 in contributions Strickland has taken from heirs of the Lehman family.
Strickland's campaign rejected the party's assertions. They said the GOP padded the total by including small-town insurance agents, accountants, financial planners, and bank IT staffers with little to do with Wall Street.
"We don't know what's more amusing, that Ohio Republicans want to inject Lehman Brothers into the governor's race once again or that they are equating circuit board producers in Canton with Wall Street tycoons like Dick Fuld," said Strickland campaign manager Aaron Pickrell. "Either way, their math is more questionable than the accounting practices that former managing director John Kasich and his co-workers used to cook the books at Lehman Brothers."
Kasich was not part of Tuesday's news conference. DeWine was joined by Ohio Senate president Bill Harris and Ohio House Republican leader Bill Batchelder, two seasoned state lawmakers who field and fund candidates for the state Legislature.
Both said they need a governor who is honest.
The GOP used a methodology that defined "Wall Street" to include both the banking and insurance industries, as well as their lobbyists, PACs and employees. Ohio has the ninth-largest insurance industry in the nation, with 249 insurance companies headquartered in the state in 2009, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance.
DeWine repeatedly accused Strickland and groups supporting his candidacy of "demonizing the entire financial services industry" with their campaign against Kasich, and said average Ohioans working throughout the sector were included to show how far-reaching the Wall Street label goes.
"They're the ones who have defined Wall Street as the State Farm agent," he said. "It's a nice focussed sound bite. You can talk about somebody has 'Wall Street values' and somebody has 'Ohio values,' when the truth of the matter is the way they've defined the fight, they're picking a fight with Ohio business, with Ohio companies."
Strickland's campaign has focussed on Kasich's time with Lehman in ads and campaign speeches, seeking to link him to an image of greed that is resonating strongly with economically-challenged voters this year. The campaign has pointed out investment losses suffered after Lehman went bankrupt, particularly at Ohio's public pension funds, and made an issue of the roughly $580,000 in salary and bonuses Kasich made annually for the years he was there.
The state has lost $29 million on the piece of business Lehman did as part of the state's $5.5 billion tobacco securitization deal, which made up most of the state business cited in the GOP analysis. The state has sought return of the money in court.