Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Evidence of DeWine Helping His Special Interest Donors

Long-time DeWine donor received $347 million from Ohio Bureau Worker's Compensation; DeWine questioned in cover-up

CLEVELAND – Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today issued the following statement in response to news reports that the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation (BWC) ignored allegations of corrupt activity by staff for incumbent Republican Senator Mike DeWine. The BWC was set up when Senator DeWine was Lt. Governor, and Senator DeWine helped determine how it allocated lucrative contracts.

"When reports of corruption in the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation surfaced, the agency Senator DeWine set up waited three months to make one phone call looking into the matter –- then declared the investigation complete," Brown said. "That half-hearted effort makes Washington Republicans investigating the Foley page scandal look like Woodward and Bernstein. Ohioans have had enough of Republicans like Senator DeWine doing special favors for their big donors instead of fighting for middle class families. It's time for leadership in Washington that stands up to the special interests and fights for Ohio ."

According to recent media reports, BWC workers received an allegation in June, 2006 that members of Senator DeWine's staff tried to improperly aid CareWorks, a politically-connected firm that has received at least $347 million since 1997 for managing the care of injured workers. The firm is run by Umberto Fedeli, a long-time donor and fundraiser for DeWine.

The report states that DeWine's staff contacted Cleveland's Council of Small Enterprises (COSE) to recommend that the organization continue paying CareWorks as its preferred managed care organization. If this allegation is true, it would amount to a violation of the bureau's regulations that govern its managed-care organizations.

Despite these troubling allegations, the bureau waited until September – a full three months – to investigate. The bureau never contacted the elected officials or their staff, subpoenaed phone records, or requested documents relevant to the allegation.

This wouldn't be the first time that DeWine has helped politically-connected figures who were given BWC contracts. The Plain Dealer reported that when he was Lt. Governor, Senator DeWine helped Mr. Fedeli, a major player in state politics who is heavily involved in the BWC system, circumvent Labor Department regulations.

CareWorks executives and associates have donated money to Senator DeWine's campaign.


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