The Kasich Delusion

Time for Ohio Republicans to Say Enough is Enough

By Scott Pullins

 

It’s the weekend and while flood waters ravage the poorest counties in Ohio and thousands of former ECOT students are still without a school; Ohio Governor John Kasich is once again on the Sunday national news shows prognosticating about the issues of the day.  It never seems to stop.

 

Last week’s Politico headlines blasted, KASICH’s TEAM GEARS UP FOR POSSIBLE 2020 BID!  But a little digging would illustrate that the headline is nothing more than wishful thinking from Politico’s editors.  In fact, it borders on out and out journalistic malpractice.

 

For example, Politico trumpets the fact that John Kasich has kept open and continues to raise funds for his campaign committee, his SuperPAC, and his nonprofit organization.  But a quick look at the actual numbers would show the patent absurdity of that statement.

 

First, John Kasich no longer has an active campaign account.  That is because he is no longer a candidate for any public office.  

 

His former presidential campaign committee, Kasich for America, has been converted to a traditional federal political action committee.  As a federal political action committee Kasich for America can now accept contributions from individuals in the amount of $5,000 per year.  Previously, it was restricted to accepting contributions from individuals in the amount of $2,700 per election.

 

But even that relaxation of restrictions has not helped Kasich’s efforts that much.  According to Federal Election Commission records, from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, Kasich for America had total receipts of $194,223.39, total expenditures of $158,271.45, leaving total cash on hand of $194,518.60.  There are dozens of Democrats in unwinnable Republican congressional districts around the nation that raised much more than this.

 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is busy raising and spending money already for the 2020 election.  From January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2017 Donald Trump for President, Inc. had total receipts of $32,100,131.52, total disbursements of $17,602,676.01, leaving total cash on hand of $22,109,158.43.

 

John Kasich’s SuperPAC is the New Day for America.  Because Kasich is not a federal officeholder and is not currently running for a federal office, he is legally permitted to raise unlimited contributions for this SuperPAC from almost any entity.  But even that advantage hasn’t helped him that much.

According to Federal Election Commission records, from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, New Day for America had total receipts of $477,038.80, total disbursements of $380,953.61, leaving total cash on hand of $346,480.79.  Something else is telling here too.  All but $18,000 or so of his contributions came from just 11 individuals and corporations.  

 

America First Action is the primary Trump endorsed SuperPAC.  From January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2017 it had total receipts of $3,951,591.00, disbursements of $2,051,685.31, leaving total cash on hand of $1,899,905.69.

 

Vice President Mike Pence has formed a leadership political action committee which is restricted to contributions of $5,000 per year.  From January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2917, Great America Committee had total receipts of $1,952,149.41, total disbursements of $1,161,840.39, leaving total cash on hand of $790,309.02

 

John Kasich’s 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, Two Paths America does not have to disclose its donors or very much about its finances.  However, it must file 990 tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.  

 

Its 2015 return filed in 2016 shows that it raised $257,000 from undisclosed donors.  Its 2016 return was filed in 2017 and shows that it started the year with $226,808.00 cash on hand and raised another $313,370.00 in 2016.  $180,000.00 was spent on commissions paid to Governor Kasich’s long-time fundraiser, Brooke Bodney.  $185,830.00 was spent on King Strategic Communications for direct mail for what was characterized as a voter registration and get out the vote operation.  Most likely that project was the infamous “Shame New Hampshire Voters” mailing that was reported by the Columbus Dispatch.

 

It has been reported by some Ohio media outlets, including 3rd Rail Politics, that an effort is underway by Kasich to recruit candidates for the State Central Committee of the Ohio Republican Party.  If so, Governor Kasich’s preferred vehicle of choice has been by using “dark money”; i.e., contributions raised for nonprofits that do not have to disclose their donors.  

 

In 2011 his allies formed a nonprofit named Restoring Ohio.  According to its 2012 990 IRS tax return, it raised $925,000.00 in undisclosed donations for that year.  $479,797.00 was spent on King Strategic Communications for direct mail and other media services on behalf of Republican State Central Committee candidates.  

 

In Toledo, television ads were run on behalf of Jon Stainbrook, who supported the ouster of Kevin DeWine in 2012.  In all, $839,798.00 of undisclosed donations were used by John Kasich to oust a successful GOP state chairman in 2012.  

 

John Kasich believes that he still has a path going forward to be elected President some time in the near future.  

 

The simple truth is that John Kasich faced two paths in 2016.  He could have chosen to check his ego, endorse Donald Trump, and by now he would have been the front runner to defeat Sherrod Brown in the 2018 U.S. Senate election.  

 

But instead, he chose the path of ego, and stubbornness.  He refused to endorse Donald Trump.  He refused to attend the national convention that was held in his home state.  And now, instead of working on Ohio issues he continues to bash Republicans and our values on national television.

 

John Kasich said recently that the Republican Party is his vehicle, not his master.  If so, then its long past time for Ohio Republicans to drop Kasich off at the nearest bus station.