Mike Gonadakis, director of the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life (ORTL), was a big supporter of Mike DeWine’s bid for Ohio Attorney General in 2010. And, like many of DeWine’s other political allies, Gonadakis was given special consideration and access once DeWine was elected.
In 2009, when DeWine announced his intentions to run for Ohio Attorney General, many on the right scoffed, viewing him as too soft on immigration, guns and even abortion issues. DeWine needed help reaching out to those on the extreme right, and he found a strong advocate in Mike Gonadakis.
Mike Gonidakis, Lobbyist and Director of Ohio Right to Life
“Thank God for Mike DeWine and his leadership,” Gonidakis told Joe Halletin 2010, shortly after ORTL had enthusiastically endorsed DeWine. “If it wasn’t for Mike DeWine, we would have taxpayer-funded abortions and mandatory funding of abortions in a public option.”
In the fall of 2010, right before the election, Gonidakis’s ORTL sent out avoter guide calling DeWine “a leader in the pro-life movement, with a record to prove it.”
A few months after getting elected, Mike DeWine emailed Michael Hall, his Director of Outside Counsel, the man responsible for helping to select private sector attorneys to represent state entities. DeWine asked Hall to set up a meeting with Gonidakis, who is also a lawyer and a lobbyist, to see if they could find some work on securities cases for him or his clients.
“We need to meet “in re gonadakis. He says security firm does have extensive experience. Please schedule time next week to look at all this,” wrote DeWine.
Hall quickly responded that he had “asked the scheduling team to give us time next week.”
Again, we see another example of Mike DeWine using his position as Attorney General to grant special access to his friends and political allies. And this access has paid off handsomely for Gonidakis, who saw his consulting business grow from two clients in 2010 (including ORTL) to nineteen clients in 2012 – including three firms actively seeking business with the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Interestingly, when DeWine’s pay-to-play scandal broke last month, it was Gonidakis they sent out to defend him. On a February 9th episode of NBC 4′s the Spectrum, Gonidakis was asked if DeWine was dolling out favors to people “who have supported him politically.” He shrugged off the accusations and told the audience, with a straight face, that “Mike DeWine is doing an amazing job as Attorney General.”
Gonidakis never revealed that he had personally benefited from his friendship and political association with DeWine. And while the show identifies Gonidakis simply as a “Republican Strategist”, they fail to mention that he is also a Kasich-appointed member of Ohio’s State Medical Board and a paid lobbyist, registered with the State of Ohio to influence the decisions of legislators and statewide office holders like Mike DeWine.
Abe Zaidan has been a professional journalist and freelance writer for more than forty years. He was the Ohio correspondent for the Washington Post, as well as a political columnist at the Akron Beacon Journal.