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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2008

Port's Hartung faces independent inquiry; Finkbeiner wants outside resources for probe

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said yesterday he wants an outside investigation into what he considers to be alleged questionable activities by James Hartung, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

"It should be extremely thorough and complete and, in my judgment, there needs to be outside resources as part of the investigation," the mayor said, addressing the issue during a news conference on an unrelated topic.

On Friday, the mayor alleged in a letter to the port authority's 13 directors that Mr. Hartung had an affair with a lobbyist for whom he was trying to raise money so she could represent Toledo-area agencies and local governments in Washington.

William Carroll, chairman of the port authority board, said the agency has in fact hired an independent party to conduct the investigation. He declined to identify that investigator or disclose compensation.

Mr. Carroll nonetheless bristled at the mayor's comments: "That's not his choice to make. This is a port board investigation."

The port chairman said he wants to get the investigation concluded promptly but has no timetable for it.

"I've taken it very seriously as chairman of the board," he said.

Told that Mr. Carroll has hired an investigator, Mr. Finkbeiner said through a spokesman that he remains concerned that the investigation not be beholden to the port authority's leadership.

The lobbyist, Kathy Teigland, of Toledo, worked for the Northwest Ohio Legislative Consortium from 2001 to 2007. At various times, the consortium received operating support from the city of Toledo, the port authority, Lucas County, the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Toledo, the Regional Growth Partnership, and Owens Community College.

Ms. Teigland was paid $480,000 by the consortium from 2001 to 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

The Blade has been unable to reach Ms. Teigland for comment. Mr. Hartung could not be reached for comment last night.

Mr. Finkbeiner said in his letter to the port authority directors last week that the alleged relationship, if it existed, was "very wrong," but didn't spell out a specific legal or ethical violation.

He said yesterday there were other issues to investigate at the port authority.

"That's not the sole issue," he said. "There is a mess internally at the port authority," Mr. Finkbeiner said, including management and "paying bills."

Mr. Finkbeiner told the port board members in a letter that he had been aggressively lobbied in late 2007 and early 2008 by Mr. Hartung to contribute financially to Ms. Teigland's salary. He said the city contributed $145,000 to the consortium since 2002.

Staff writers David Patch and Alex M. Parker contributed to this report.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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