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Ohio Auditor, other office holders buy self-promoting giveaways

DAYTON, August 2, 2009 (AP): State leaders have spent more than $225,000 in the last two and a half years on items like tote bags, mouse pads, and polo shirts to promote their offices and their names.

State Auditor Mary Taylor, a Republican who serves as the state’s money watchdog, spent $57,816 since taking office in January 2007 on calendars, magnets and posters for local finance officials as well as Ohio history CDs for school children, according to a review of spending records by the Dayton Daily News.

Most of the items have Taylor’s name and photo on them.

Taylor spokesman Chris Abbruzzese defended the purchase of the items.

``These are not grocery bags or water bottles or dime store trinkets that serve no purpose other than self-promotion,'' he said.

Rather, he noted, the calendars are given to local government officials and include financial reporting deadlines and the posters include fraud reporting hot lines.

Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, didn’t spend any money on promotional items, his office said in response to a public records request.

Last year, the Ohio Supreme Court spent $662 on coffee mugs for new employees but the cups do not have the names of the seven justices on them.

But State Treasurer Kevin Boyce, a Democrat appointed seven months ago, spent more than $32,000 on promotional material, including water bottles, grocery bags, and pencils, the paper found.

Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat who won election seven months ago, bought $8,824 worth of pens, letter openers, and note pads.

Cordray’s predecessors, Nancy Rogers and Marc Dann, spent more. On Rogers' watch, the attorney general's office purchased $37,814 worth of giveaways including $17,000 in flash drives. It's unclear whether any of these items had her name on them.

Dann, a Democrat who resigned in May 2007, used his office accounts to purchase beaded necklaces, umbrellas, golf shirts, coffee mugs, hand sanitizer and lapel pins. He rang up $80,900 in purchases for promotional items, many with his name emblazoned on them.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat now running for U.S. Senate, bought $8,579 worth of memo pads, carrying bags, and polo shirts. The 135 embroidered polo shirts cost $2,269 and are used by staff during work hours for identification purposes at events such as the state fair, said Brunner press secretary Jeff Ortega said.

Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com






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