He can’t help it. Armond Budish is a Democrat politician from Cuyahoga County, after all. If you don’t know what I mean by that, then you’ve probably never heard of the name of Jimmy Dimora, either.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Did you think that statehouse pay-to-play politics vanished because we switched from a Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives to a Democrat majority in the Ohio House of Representatives? Did you think monumental changes are in store now that Democrats control legislation? If you thought so, you haven’t been paying any attention to Buckeye RINO. I’ve been saying all along that pay-to-play politics is a game that special interests play with BOTH political parties in the Ohio General Assembly. I’ve been saying all along that you have to learn about the INDIVIDUAL you are voting for, and not just the party affiliation.
So, if you thought that ensconcing Armond Budish as the new Speaker of the House with Democrats in control would mark some kind of improvement over Householder/Husted/Dolan and a bunch of Republicans, you were WRONG.
This is the start of the biennium. It’s the start of a new session of the General Assembly. Do you know what that means? Since it’s the point in time most distant from the time that one must stand for re-election, that means now is the time to consider the most odious of legislation. If there are issues that Ohioans oppose, but legislators favor, now is the time that legislators will act on those issues.
Why do legislators oppose the will of the people? Because they get campaign contributions for doing so. Now is the time to reward campaign donors, and now is the time to line up campaign donors for the next election run. The legislators hope for two things: First, that you won’t be paying any attention to the legislation that gets passed; and second, if you are paying attention, that you have a very short memory.
Perhaps the most publicized pay-to-play legislation at the beginning of the previous biennium was a Senate bill that hurt mom-and-pop cable television utilities in order to favor the big behemoths of the cable industry. The spin of the politicians was that we’d see more competition within the cable TV industry, and our rates would go down. Did anybody’s rates go down? During the past year, my rate actually took a hike. The Ohio General Assembly tried to feed us this hogwash because the cable TV behemoths, through their Political Action Committees, are able to be much more generous in donating to campaigns than the little mom-and-pop cable TV companies.
This biennium, the granddaddy of the pay-to-play PAC’s appear to be those connected to casino gambling. Ohioans have repeatedly voted against casino ballot issues. Ohioans don’t want casinos. Our legislators do. Our legislators always have. Why? Because if our legislators oppose gambling, they don’t receive PAC donations to their campaigns for sticking to their principles. If our legislators support gambling, however, they stand to receive lots of campaign donations to gambling-related PAC’s. With our legislators, money talks. Ohioans talk, too, but our legislators turn a deaf ear when there’s no money attached.
“I have no inherent opposition to gambling by any means.”
He’s so emphatic, by adding the words “by any means” to the phrase “no inherent opposition.” Doesn’t it sound like code for “I have no inner convictions,” or “I haven’t developed any scruples,” or, at the very least, “I might have some inner convictions/scruples, but why don’t you offer me some campaign money, and together we’ll explore just where those scruples might or might not be.”
How convenient. At the get-go, politician Armond Budish is pointing out the lack of a personal conviction. Just what we need more of–politicians without principles. Yet, even if he, himself, lacked a personal conviction when it came to the gambling issue, isn’t he elected to represent Ohioans? Since he leads the majority caucus in the Ohio House of Representatives, shouldn’t he feel a need to represent the majority of Ohioans? And didn’t a majority of Ohioans vote down casino gambling every single time it was ever put before them as a ballot issue? Yet, Budish did not acknowledge the demonstrated views of the majority of Ohioans in giving his position on gambling. Instead, it was as if he was elected to a House district wherein he only represents himself, saying on the public record that he, himself, has no inherent opposition to gambling. He’s not representing anybody but himself. And by representing only himself, he’s advertising to all the PAC’s, even beyond the issue of gambling, that he’s all ears if you’ve got money to contribute. Ohioans? Bah, humbug! Who are they, unless they can contribute $omething?
Hence, Armond Budish, Ohio’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, has announced to the world of lobbyists and donors, “I’M FOR SALE!!!!”
From the same Plain Dealer article, we see that Governor Strickland is advertising the fact that his spine is missing, as he’s caving in on pledges made to voters in 2006 that he opposes expansion of gambling. He already introduced Keno to the Ohio Lottery. Now he’s sounding the trumpet beckoning to all the casino tycoons. If you want to read more on Strickland and gambling, check out Writes Like She Talks, with this article, this one, and also this one.
Before Strickland caved in on gambling, he was opposed. Before he was opposed, he was wishy-washy, i.e. he was sending signals that he could be influenced, could be bought. Again, Jill Miller Zimon posted at WLST about an interview that Strickland gave to an assembly of bloggers. Back on March 27th, 2006, I had this to say about Strickland’s non-committal response:
” . . . As for Strickland and gambling, he has left the door open for pro-gambling PAC’s to donate to his campaign (I haven’t looked at any campaign finance reports yet to find out if this has indeed happened), and I certainly get the sense that he will let others do the dirty work to expand gambling here. He’s sending a signal that he can be ‘bought’ . . .”
Jill wanted me to elaborate on this point , so later, I added this:
” When a candidate makes a clear and definitive statement on an issue, then a candidate is clearly sending a message that they cannot be bought at an auction to the highest bidder. When a candidate makes a public statement on an issue that is totally ambiguous, that’s sending a message of ‘Go ahead and influence me! Make your checks out to . . .’”
And after Jill continued to press me on the point, I concluded with this:
“Someone who has known all sides of the issues for as long as Strickland has (How could he not? His whole career revolves around issues.) should have been able to draw some conclusions by now and found ways to effectively articulate for the positions he advocates. If he were merely a bystander, it would be easier to understand his indecisiveness. It almost makes me think that Strickland concedes that it’s a foregone conclusion that Ohioans support casinos. I doubt that Ohioans support casinos, since every ballot issue on the matter has gone down to defeat. The pro-gambling lobbyists have curried favor with our legislators, and that’s the arena where gambling really needs to be held in check.”
Was I clairvoyant, or what? I’m telling you now, that I had Strickland pegged way back then. So what I’m telling you about Budish . . . mark my words, he’s for sale.