Monday, April 25, 2011

Mike DeWine: Attorney general - and big investor

IT'S NOT UNCOMMON for wealthy politicians to pile up more than enough investments to reach the top shelf of a well-stocked pantry. Still, when the the pol is Mike DeWine, the mega-rich Ohio attorney general who campaigned to look after the little guy by working to rid all of us of the new health care law, it would be fair to wonder where his next meal might be coming from. That's especially the case in questioning his holdings in companies that could be subjected to the scrutiny of the AG's office.

The Plain Dealer's Sheryl Harris explored DeWine's pantry in detail in a revealing Sunday piece that raised red flags about DeWine's public job and his private stocks. She wrote:
"Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will find it tough to do his job without tripping over his stock portfolio. DeWine invests in hundreds of companies - including major retailers, energy companies, drug makers and wireless providers - whose business practices could come under scrutiny from the attorney general's office."
Hundreds? Hundreds.

Harris reported that some of the companies have already had problems with the AG's office in the pre-DeWine days. That group includes Novartis, the drug maker that paid Ohio and other states $422 million after being accused of "improperly marketing drugs and paying kickbacks to doctors."

The consequence of a lawsuit against a big company is that it could lower the value of the stock.
"By holding stock in the very types of companies his office investigates," Harris wrote, "DeWine creates a stiuation in which he stands to make or lose money, depending on the actions of his office."

The situation sounded serious enough until DeWine shrugged it off by insisting that he saw no appearance of conflict of interest and had no mind to sell the stocks. Problem solved. Still, I hope his lawyers can make a better case of persuading a judge or jury than his airy dismissal of critics of his own behavior in his new job. For him, it obviously wasn't too hot in the pantry.

And while we're at it: The PD also reports that Rocky River, which showered John Kasich with 56 pct. of the vote in the November election, is unhappily faced with a whopping 79 pct. cut in public school funding in the governor's proposed budget. Once again we are reminded that the voters often get the kind of government that they deserve.

1 comment:

Mencken said...

Rocky River gets a big hello from "the revenge of the unintended consequence".