Donors Companies for Third Frontier Grants, Republicans Like Campaign Cash Too
Move along folks… nothing to see here:
A panel controlled by the governor has hand-picked contenders in the latest round of bidding for a pair of high-tech Third Frontier venture funds, breaking with past practice that based awards solely on merit.
The nine-member Ohio Third Frontier Commission opted for the first time to limit eligibility for its two entrepreneurial funds in response to tough economic conditions, said executive director Norm Chagnon. Grants for those funds will go only to business entities that have a track record with the venture capital program, including several tied to generous political donors.
And while are Democrats so anxious to renew the Third Frontier, while Republicans are eager go along with a slightly less porky version? Because the free flow of grants and low-interest loans from the state = campaign cash. Cha-ching!:
A review by The Associated Press found lobbyists, executives and directors for the chosen entities and their spouses have given at least $220,000 to Ohio political campaigns in recent years. They have supported both Democratic and Republican state leaders who control the future of the program.
A joint committee of the state House and Senate is scheduled Tuesday to decide how much voters should be asked to pump into the successful initiative, one of the few bright lights on Ohio’s job creation horizon.
Gov. Ted Strickland initially proposed $1 billion. That figure was pared back to $950 million by the Ohio House and to $500 million by the Ohio Senate, and the two chambers must now compromise.
Campaign filings show that House Speaker Armond Budish collected more than $13,000 from high tech representatives as the debate raged last month.
JumpStart executives, for example, have contributed nearly $23,000 to Strickland and other Democrats. JumpStart director Ken Semelsberger, a senior Eaton Corp. vice president, has given almost $26,000 to Republicans.
Jamie Ireland, a managing director at Early Stage Partners, has given at least $23,000 to Ohio political campaigns, including $9,200 to Strickland, $8,600 to state Sen. and former House Speaker Jon Husted, $3,000 to Budish, and $2,500 to Senate President Bill Harris.
The Mercurio family affiliated with the Entrepreneurs Fund has given $78,000 mostly to Republicans, including $10,000 to Husted.
One of the firms Strickland made the exemption for was for BioEnterprise, who Brian Hicks lobbies for. Hicks, a convicted criminal, was also Gov. Taft’s Chief of Staff and helped create the Third Frontier.
Every pick-nose reporter and columnist in Ohio will repeat the lie that the Third Frontier created 41,000 jobs, while not mentioning the fact that wealth must be confiscated and jobs destroyed to pay for this less-efficient method of allocating resources.
But what is true is that the Third Frontier is a real, genuine example of bi-partisanship in Ohio. And it’s damn expensive.
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