Posted: 6:36 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2012
By Laura A. Bischoff
Less than two weeks after losing his bid for U.S. Senate, Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel re-hired his campaign political director Joe Aquilino into the treasurer’s office and put his campaign video tracker into a state job that pays $62,500-a-year.
Aquilino, who has been an attorney for two years, is now the new deputy legal counsel and director of regional representatives — a job that pays $90,000 a year. The treasury’s new deputy director of regional representatives is Jared Borg, who served as Mandel’s Senate campaign political coordinator and collected video of Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown’s public appearances.
During the Senate campaign, Brown criticized Mandel for hiring political workers and friends into key positions in the treasurer’s office.
Seth Unger, who is spokesman for Mandel, defended the re-hiring of Aquilino and appointment of Borg to a state job.
“Treasurer Mandel generated a $1.6 million surplus in the 2012 fiscal year operating budget, largely by streamlining staff in the office and reducing operating expenses. He reduced the budgeted office payroll by more than $944,000, while improving the bond rating, launching a new local government investment program, and increasing security as a watchdog of taxpayer dollars,” Unger said in a written statement. “Treasurer Mandel has great confidence in the staff he employs in the office, and the work that they do on behalf of taxpayers across Ohio.”
Brown won a second six-year term by defeating Mandel by 5 percentage points.
“Josh Mandel’s always going to be a politician who can’t be trusted and his decision to immediately begin rehiring his unqualified political cronies now that the campaign’s over proves he’s learned absolutely nothing from his loss and is ignoring the message that voters sent him when they told him to finally start doing the job he was elected to do,” said Justin Barasky, former spokesman for the Brown campaign.
Although it is common for officeholders to hire people they know and trust, Mandel’s hires stood out because he took a strong stance against the previous treasurer, Kevin Boyce, for appointing politically connected people into key jobs. During the 2010 state treasurer’s campaign, Mandel said: “Unlike the current officeholder, I will ensure that my staff is comprised of qualified financial professionals — rather than political cronies and friends — and that investment decisions are based on what is best for Ohioans.”
In January 2011, Mandel put Aquilino into the treasurer’s office as director of debt management at a salary of $90,000 a year. But in August 2011, Aquilino moved back to the political side to try to elect Mandel to U.S. Senate.
The Brown campaign repeatedly ran a TV ad that featured Aquilino’s photograph and state job as evidence that Mandel had hired politicos into the treasurer’s office.
Aquilino did not return messages seeking comment.