Josh Mandel, Ohio treasurer of state, has given his staff appointees large raises since he took office while awarding more modest raises to the employees he inherited when he became treasurer a year ago.
The analysis, done by the U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown re-election campaign and confirmed by The Blade, adds to the Democrats’ portrayal of Mr. Mandel — the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate — as having filled jobs in his office with well-paid political “cronies.”
But the Mandel staff said appointees received additional pay because they took on new administrative and supervisory duties, or received “nondiscretionary” raises as mandated by collective bargaining agreements or civil service rules.
Six Mandel political appointees received raises ranging from $250 to $1,153 per two-week pay period since the time he took office.
In the same period, raises for the six highest-paid holdovers from former Democratic Treasurer Kevin Boyce ranged from $147 to $441 per pay period.
The biggest dollar-amount raise went to Mr. Mandel’s general counsel, Seth Metcalf. His salary zoomed to $5,961 per two-week pay period from $4,808, a 24 percent increase, after he joined the staff in January, 2011. According to Seth Unger, press secretary for Mr. Mandel, Mr. Metcalf also took on the job of chief financial officer, eliminating a position and saving $45,000 a year.
Mr. Mandel, a Republican who took office in January, 2011, is running against Senator Brown in a race that is expected to attract high spending and intense partisanship on both sides.
Mr. Mandel’s supervision of the treasurer’s office, a job he won less than a year and a half ago, has been the target of withering criticism from Brown partisans who see Mr. Mandel as neglecting the duties he was elected to perform in order to run for a national office.
“Josh Mandel broke yet another promise to Ohioans when he pledged to surround himself with qualified financial professionals and instead carelessly hired his political cronies to manage billions of Ohio’s tax dollars in the treasurer’s office,” said Sadie Weiner, spokesman for the Brown campaign.
“The fact that Mandel’s cronyism extended not just to hiring his friends but to lavishing hefty raises onto his hires while employees from the previous administration saw almost no movement in pay is yet another example that Josh Mandel isn’t doing his job and can’t be trusted,” she said.
But Mr. Unger said Mr. Mandel consolidated positions in his office to save money, and said each appointee who got a raise consolidated two or three pre-existing jobs.
The salaries of Treasury employees, like all state employees, are available to the public on the Web site of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.
After Mr. Metcalf, the second-highest dollar increase went to William Bishilany, whose pay went from $4,039 a pay period in June, 2011, to $5,000 in the most recent pay period, an increase of $961 a pay period, or 24 percent. Mr. Bishilany was hired as deputy treasurer and later was also appointed director of economic development, a consolidation that Mr. Unger said is saving the taxpayers $75,000.
Bradley Young received a raise of $711, from $2,616 per pay period in February, 2011, to $3,327, a 27 percent hike. He was promoted from legislative liaison to director of public affairs. According to Mr. Unger, his promotion consolidated three positions, creating a net savings of $132,000.
Among Boyce-era holdovers, the biggest pay raise went to Grant Wise, an information technologist, whose pay went up from $1,468 in December, 2010, to $1,909 per pay period, an increase of $441, or 30 percent.
Mr. Unger said the Brown campaign’s criticism reveals “a profound misunderstanding of state government and collective bargaining laws.”
He said it would violate collective bargaining agreements or the Ohio Administrative Code for the treasurer to award raises outside the established pay structure for classified employees.
“The treasurer’s office has consolidated and streamlined departments and staff in order to increase efficiency and save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars,” Mr. Unger said.
He said Mr. Mandel’s reorganization reduced overall office staff to 126 from 140 and saved $775,000 in the current fiscal year alone.
All the pre-2011 employees have civil service-style classifications; the Mandel employees who got raises are classified as “administrative staff.”
The Dayton Daily News reported on March 31 that Mr. Mandel hired young, relatively inexperienced staffers from his 2010 campaign and gave them high-ranking jobs in the state treasurer’s office after accusing his 2010 opponent, Mr. Boyce, of the same practice and promising not to do it himself.
Mr. Mandel defeated Mr. Boyce 55 percent to 41 percent.
In all, data from the state Department of Administrative Services show that 129 people were receiving full-time paychecks as of Dec. 18, 2010, in Mr. Boyce’s last month on the job, compared with 120 at present under Mr. Mandel. Of those 120, 105 have been on the job since July, 2011.
Of the 105, 62 were carried over from the Boyce administration and 43 were hired since then.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.