When Progressive Democrats Should Vote for the Republican -- or the Corruption of Kevin Boyce

I've been tossing something around in my head for a few weeks now and have finally come to the conclusion that there are certain circumstances under which the conscientious progressive must deny the Democratic Party and either sit an election out or, in rare circumstances, vote Republican. The idea is that electing corrupt and incompetent Democrats stains the larger progressive movement. If we're going to have bad leadership, it is much better for progressives if the officeholder carries the Republican banner.

Instead of wading deep into hypotheticals and theory, let's discuss the case of Kevin Boyce, the Democratic candidate for Treasurer in Ohio.

To be clear, not everything can be pinned on Boyce. He was appointed to his post, so he never had to navigate the crucible of an election (he was also originally appointed to his City Council seat in Columbus -- hmm, this guy seems to get pretty darn lucky). Many of Boyce's shortcomings can be chalked up to incompetence and laziness; one could argue that these traits would have revealed themselves on the campaign trail, and Boyce never would have been in a position to inflict the pains of his corrupt and dishonest leadership on the Buckeye electorate and specifically, Ohio progressives.

That said, it would be wrong for progressive to toe the party line and give Boyce a pass for his rank corruption and cronyism.

Here is a history lesson for you: In 1876, the torch arm of what would become the Statue of Liberty was displayed in New York City's Madison Square Park. There it sat for years -- just the arm. Why, you ask? Because New York was in the throes of a devastating economic crisis and could not afford to pay for the foundation that would support the entire statue. Instead, the arm was put on display and used as a fundraiser. New Yorkers gave their nickels and dimes until enough money had been raised six years later to erect the base upon which the rest of the statue sits today.

Now compare that to recent circumstances, and specifically Kevin Boyce. Like 1876, the country is suffering through a severe economic downturn, but it is even more pronounced in Ohio, where manufacturing jobs have fled due to cozy relationships with bankers. Whereas the New York City government decided to use its precious tax revenues to maintain police and fire departments and other critical city services, Kevin Boyce decided to squander taxpayer money by having his brand placed upon such important items as water bottles and hand sanitizer.

It's worth noting that Boyce's office is charged with collecting, investing and protecting Ohio's tax revenue. This is what Buckeyes get? How can Boyce justify spending more than $75,000 of desperately needed tax revenues on this kind of blatant and corrupt self-promotion? More to the point, is that the kind of Democrat progressives want to elect?

Of course, in the larger scheme of things, that probably amounts to little more than trivial, vanity corruption. It's too bad that with Kevin Boyce, the more substantive kind of corruption runs to the bone...

Here is a cursory overview of some of his greatest feats of corruption, which the Dayton Daily News has been following:

Boyce also hired two friends from high school, a man who goes to his church, and several people from Columbus city hall.

Newton Burris, 36, who is paid $105,019 a year as the treasurer's economic development director, played football with Boyce at Columbus East High School. Boyce's scheduler and administrative assistant, Angela Burks, 36, who is paid $67,000, is another friend from high school.

Again, cronyism, corruption, nepotism... maybe small potatoes in the big picture, but those are some pretty hefty salaries, which I'm guessing virtually any of the 200,000 individuals who lost jobs during Kevin's Boyce's tenure would have love to have gotten. Specifically, the scores of people with state government and financial experience, who obviously suffered from not going to the right church or high school.

Let's have a look at some other official actions that are a bit sickening, including possible bribery:

Just a week after winning a new contract from Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce, Key Bank officials are hosting a $500-a ticket political fund-raiser for him in Cleveland on Tuesday, July 28.

Although the state has processed its own checks for more than 100 years, Boyce hired Key Bank to handle roughly 485,000 checks per month.

Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce recently picked a Boston bank that is accused of defrauding California's two largest public pension funds to hold more than $32 billion in assets belonging to three Ohio public retirement systems.

State Street's lobbyist in Ohio is a friend of Boyce's top deputy, Amer Ahmad, and once had a business relationship with him.

State Street hired the lobbyist, Noure Alo, a Columbus immigration attorney, in February, eight days after the firm's bids were due to the treasurer's office. Boyce also hired the lobbyist's wife, Walaa Waeda, to be an office assistant about a month earlier.

Oh, and State Street just happened to trust some of New Yorker's pension funds to some guy named Bernie Madoff. Perhaps you've heard of him? Apparently, Treasurer Kevin Boyce hasn't.

When this blows up, how much is it going to cost Buckeyes? And who is going to take the blame? Even if clear evidence of bribery or fraud were to surface and Boyce spent some time in jail, the real loser will be the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. If what we get when we elect a compromised, corporatized Democrat is Republican-style corruption and malfeasance, we'd be much better off not tarnishing our brand.

That's why this progressive is joining the editorial boards of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (endorsed Barack Obama), Toledo Blade (a paper with a lefty reputation that was the only major Ohio publication to endorse progressive Sherrod Brown in 2006), and the Dayton Daily News (center-left by reputation) to tell you you absolutely should not vote for the corrupt pro-corporate Democrat, Kevin Boyce for Ohio Treasurer. You should support Republican Josh Mandel, or if you can't stomach voting for a Republican -- particularly after some of his despicable ads in this race -- vote for the Libertarian candidate Matthew Cantrell.

This is big picture stuff. Kevin Boyce will only further destroy progressivism in Ohio with his dirty governing. We can't let that happen. And anyway, with his history, I'm sure he'll have no trouble getting his friends to appoint him to something above his pay grade when we clear his corruption from the Ohio Treasury.