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Husted campaign uses public-funded videos

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Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is running for governor.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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COLUMBUS — The secretary of state’s office produces slick videos at public expense promoting Jon Husted in his capacity as an elected officeholder.

But some of the videos seem to have little to do with the work of the state’s chief elections officer.

Mr. Husted talks about National Adoption Month. Mr. Husted talks about Veterans Day. Mr. Husted talks about his self-declared “Veteran-Owned Businesses Month.”

After the videos are stitched together on state time with state money, Mr. Husted personally uses Twitter to promote himself politically as he campaigns for the Republican nomination for governor.

The videos, as well as photos, are generated by the secretary of state’s office and shared on its @OhioSOSHusted account on Twitter and retweeted by Mr. Husted himself on his @JonHusted account.

His personal account states he is a candidate for governor and that it is “paid for by Husted for Ohio.”

Asked whether it is appropriate for materials produced at public expense to also be used for political purposes, Husted campaign spokesman Joshua Eck said he sees nothing wrong with the practice.

“The things Jon Husted has done as secretary of state are among the many things that qualify him to be Ohio’s next governor and our campaign is very proud of that work and we have enthusiastically shared it with our supporters,” Mr. Eck said.

Mr. Husted’s personal account dates to 2009, before his service as secretary of state, and contains “personal things, including photos of his children ... He retweets anything he believes would be of interest to his followers — government related, campaign related, personal things,” Mr. Eck said.

With 9,456 followers, Mr. Husted’s personal Twitter account has 6.5 times more followers than the 1,452 of his campaign account, @HustedforOhio.

Sam Rossi, spokesman for Husted in his capacity of secretary of state, declined comment on the personal use of the office’s videos and photos. He said the videos are “all produced in-house and are intended to educate and raise awareness about the work we do and the important issues facing Ohioans.”

He did not respond to repeated questions about the cost of producing the videos, only saying Mr. Husted’s office has cut its spending by $14.5 million and the number of employees by 40 percent compared to his predecessor.

The secretary of state’s office has used videos for years to promote voting and voting registration and to recognize Ohio businesses, Mr. Rossi said.

Mr. Husted’s office handles the paperwork that businesses file to incorporate in Ohio. One video boasts of how he currently uses no tax dollars to operate his office, which is funded by fees.

One office-produced video posted this month and retweeted four times by Mr. Husted’s personal account shows him talking about the importance of adoption.

The campaign Twitter account retweeted the video once. All of Mr. Husted’s accounts, except the secretary of state account, use the “paid for by Husted for Ohio” disclaimer, Mr. Eck said.

Asked what adoption had to do with the secretary of state’s duties, Mr. Rossi said the office handles “apostilles and certifications,” which verify the signatures on public documents when they are needed in a foreign country, such as international adoption paperwork.

The office issued 21,446 apostilles last fiscal year. A breakdown on the number involving adoptions was not available.

The state-produced videos do not appear on Mr. Husted’s gubernatorial Facebook page or his campaign website.

None of the campaign Twitter accounts of the other five elected Republican and Democratic officeholders running for governor appear to use materials produced by their public offices: Attorney General Mike DeWine, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (all Republicans); and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (both Democrats).

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