Feb 10, 2006

Bob McCloskey Indicted On Extortion Charges

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(Toledo, OH) It was years in the making, but the slow-turning wheels of local justice finally ground out an indictment against Toledo citycouncilperson Bob McCloskey.

McCloskey is accused of attempting to solicit a $100,000 bribe from companies attempting to do business with the city of Toledo. One of these "requests" was caught on voicemail.

Note to would-be extortionists: voicemail is not the best place to leave a demand for payment.

If convicted, McCloskey could face a potential prison sentence of one to five years and a potential fine of $10,000 on each count. Also, a person convicted of bribery is barred from holding public office in the state of Ohio.

McCloskey, for those who are unaware, shamelessly switched from a district council seat to an at-large seat to get around the term limits law. Dear Bob: when the voters indicated they wanted a 12-year term limit for council persons, we meant 12 years. Not 12 years as a district rep, plus 12 as an at-large rep, or any permutation that your friends in the Law Department could conjure up.

That case is still winding through the state judicial system.

For a moment, at least,there is a restoration in my belief that there can still be justice. Bob - do the right thing and resign. Now.

26 comments:

Lisa Renee said...

I could be wrong but since the charter doesn't require him to step down unless he is found guilty I don't think he will step down.

historymike said...

Oh, I doubt he would step down, Lisa.

That would indicate that he has some shred of a conscience.

:-}

Besides, the thug in him probably relishes this fight.

Lisa Renee said...

Fox did a good job, closely or followed at the same time by the Blade. Last I checked 24 was the only one who didn't have it listed.

I wanted to blog it first then write it on Toledo Talk.

He should resign but then again most of them that should don't. It is a shame that this wasn't looked at before the election though, had it been done then and he would have been indicted might have changed the whole election outcome a bit.

Anonymous said...

McCloskey is the sleaziest, most corrupt, and most ignorant person to ever seek public office. Thank GOd they indicted him!

historymike said...

Hey - tell us how you REALLY feel, anaonymous!

:-}

Lisa Renee said...

lol wow I sense he or she was not a fan of Bob...

:-)

Stephanie said...

"Also, a person convicted of bribery is barred from holding public office in the state of Ohio."

Well, now THAT's a good law to have!

historymike said...

I think Bob is in some real trouble, especially with the demand that was left on voicemail.

If his attorney can throw out the recorded bribe demand, he might skate.

Lisa Renee said...

I think given how long it's taken to get the Lucas county Prosecuter's office to look at this, that tape probably won't be accepted into evidence. But I'm not sure if it's going to guarantee a skate since there are several people that can testify. If anything it would help their civil suit if he is found guilty on criminal charges. I don't think Julia Bates, especially after taking this long would have presented to a grand jury if she didn't think she had a case.

But we'll find out Monday how long this is going to drag out.

BrianMaxson said...

If we are relying on the same judicial system used to convict Edwin Bergsmark, Bob McCloskey will be able to retire with full benefits of Social Security and not spend a day in jail.

White Mormon Patriot said...

Under municipal election law in Anchorage, AK, McCloskey wouldn't have been able to pull the "at-large" caper. Up here, you can serve a max of 3 consecutive terms on either the Assembly or School Board, but then you must stand down for at least 1 term (3 years) before running again.

In other words, we've implemented term restrictions rather than absolute term limits. The weaknesses of term limits are that they're antidemocratic and a copout for lazy voters. I want elected officials who are competent and incorruptible, like Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo (no partisanship intended - I'm sure there are Democratic equivalents), to be able to serve as long as the voters want them.

The anti-bribery law cited here is marvelous. It ought to be Federal law.

ConscienceDefended said...

I will not dispute that the allegations against Councilman McCloskey seem to have created quite a buzz among these forums. In reality, regarding the "at Large" caper, it is nothing less than what Toledoans have stood for, applauded and accepted for years. There was no violation of the charter. Near as I can tell, it was an open process. Anyone could have run... Toledo is still a democracy. If you (collectively) are as peeved about "term limit" abuse as you imply, put your own name out there.

I see this as a great tragedy. While Councilman McCloskey may not always make (& perhaps he never has) the most polished speeches, nor come off as a slick politician/hack or politico, he does not use his council role for personal gain. Nor has he ever acted with malevolence or malicious intent ---as some of his council colleagues have done... and continue to do.

Consider this...

If you accept the possibility that the accusations are true, (which I do not) Councilman McCloskey is being accused of bribery, because he criticized a corporate citizen for failing to honor a commitment made in a union contract --to pay prescription drug costs for people who gave their lives to the company.

--"Shred of conscience..." This man is being tried because of his conscience. He's being tried (wrongly) for representing his constituents... advocating on behalf of people whom he used to represent.

Is expecting a corporate citizen to honor a contractual agreement for prescription drug coverage for employees who served 20 + years of their lives too much to ask?

Bribery/extortion requires planning, forethought, and strategy. By your own commentaries, it is clear you think he's incapable of such.

He's merely an unsophisticated advocate who believed peoples' service to a company should be met with integrity from that company.

In the councilman's defense, I would choose this unsophisticated advocate who is motivated by good for others and doing what he believed was in the best interest of others rather than a mercenary councilman whose every action is for sale to the highest bidder.

Finally, in further defense, District Three has seen the most road resurfacing ever during both Finkbeiner 1 and the Ford Administration. Why? Because that "BullDog" believed the people of south and east Toledo deserved as much as he could get for them. Additionally, Councilman McCloskey has always been the lead on council in fighting against budget cuts for youth activities, parks and programming, seasonal hires. During the last year of the Ford administration, there would not have been enough seasonals to cut grass in this city had it not been for the councilman's advocacy. His leadership has prevented the loss of recreational activities for teens throughout this city--because he demanded the funding of replacement programs like Toledo Community Recreation program.

Find anyone else on council (other than Councilwoman Brown) who truly believes they are on council... for the good of their district?

Find anyone else on council who isn't padding their resume for their next step up the political ladder.

Find anyone else in leadership who has not demanded some kind of quid pro quo....

Find someone who hasn't sold out their district-- and arranged votes for show as in… "Hey colleagues, as a district council member, I need to vote NO on this piece of legislation because the pesky constituents don't want this... but I want this to pass, so... please vote yes."

The egregiousness of this situation is that this Councilman is the least of our worries. Find me something that Councilman McCloskey has done that was not an effort to support build or represent someone or something in his district.

Look into the campaign finances of others on council. Some members are merely motivated by and work to benefit their own bottom line--and at least one is practically fee for service.

Councilman McCloskey is more selfless and more loyal to the good of Toledo, its Youth and its Future than ANY of his colleagues.

It is truly sad that you and your contributors are so short-sighted as to attempt to convict someone who has only tried to do what he felt was best-- to no benefit of his own-- and hold a company like Pilkington to some level of accountability.

I hope when your back's against the wall, may you have someone as loyal, and good hearted as this Councilman as your advocate.

N.B.: I am in no way affiliated with the Councilman. I merely believe that the Councilman is innocent until proven guilty.

Do said...

Consciencedefended - thank you. You have re-enforced what I try to get people to understand - that being ACCUSED and being INDICTED is not PROOF of guilt nor a guilty verdict.

As for your portrayal of Councilman McCloskey being a true advocate for the people that elected him - I could not agree more. I've never known him to give up without a fight.

And for those that think he should step down - if you were ACCUSED of some sort of impropriety that could carry a jail sentence would you voluntarily give up your livelihood WITHOUT having been convicted of anything? I wouldn't. I would make sure that whatever the accusation was had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt (as is afforded to ALL of us by our judicial system).

And, Mike, I know Bob McCloskey. And he DOES have a conscience. More than you would believe. And I'm curious as to why you refer to him as a thug. Could you please explain?

Lisa - I don't agree with "He should resign but then ..." He has not been proven guilty of anything.

historymike said...

I have great respect for your opinions, Do, but we will have to disagree about Bob McCloskey.

Without delving too much into old grudges, I have good reason to question Mr. McCloskey's character. I have personally witnessed some behavior that I found "thuggish" - at the minimum, I would characterize it as "boorish."

Again, I add the disclaimer that my personal dislike for McCloskey certainly colors my editorials.

historymike said...

ConscienceDefended:

1. "There was no violation of the charter." Perhaps not in the letter of the law, but can you honestly say that the spirit of the law was not broken? Come on!

2. Perhaps you know a side of Mr. McCloskey that the rest of us do not. In that case, you have performed a useful service. In my dealings with him, I have found him to be rude, arrogant, and someone who believes intimidation is the way to handle opponents.

3. "he does not use his council role for personal gain." Oh, come on - we're talking about a politician here, not one of the Twelve Apostles. He may or may not be guilty of extortion, but he sure as hell benefits from this high-profile position. And let us not forget about the hissy fit he had when he didn't get the Council presidency.


I do appreciate your comments.

I freely admit that I flat out think Mr. McCloskey is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with Toledo politics, and my posts about him reflect my low opinion of him.

Do said...

Mike - we can disagree. That's part of the American way. Personally I have never seen Bob act in any manner I would deem 'thuggish'. I have seen him stand his ground, I've seen him defend his constituents, and I've seen him go into what I call "Zero Bullshit" mode. Being the kind of person that has assumed that mode from time to time, I relate rather well.

I regret that whatever interaction you have had with him didn't pan out well. I can only speak from my own experiences with the man and his willingness to ALWAYS help. He has not been able to deliver each and every time, but I will bet the farm that he tried his darnedest.

-Sepp said...

It takes more than one councilman to pass or deny a zoning request. From the news I have heard, city council was ready to approve the request and then voted it down when the money wasn't comming. That leads me to believe that more councilmembers than just Bob knew what was going on and, are for the most part accessories to the caper. Are we to believe that all members voted "no" to rezone vacant industrial property to build a school which would have put hundreds of people to work building the complex and then employ teachers, staff, maintenance, and food service workers at a time when jobs were scarce in Toledo? And then vote "yes" for a TPS building a year later? No, Bob has cohorts on city council that either knew or, were a part of this mess. It make you wonder how much city business is conducted in this shady manner but gets in under the radar.

historymike said...

Very true, Sepp. I may be guilty of focusing too much on McCloskey.

Funny thing - there almost seems to be a backlash of sympathy for Bob now that he's been indicted. People have been voicing much more support on the Net for McCloskey in the last few days than I have ever seen.

Of course, he was the #2 votegetter, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he has support, but I am detecting a sentiment that McCloskey is being unfairly targeted.

ConscienceDefended said...

1. As for spirit of the law---- When the law was written, you can bet every angle was covered. The “loophole” would not have been left had it not been part of the spirit of the law. In many ways it make sense. A District council is substantially different from At Large council seat. With the change over on council, with the onset of “the climbers,” it is critical to have someone on council who understands the function of council and the business of the city—rather than someone whose other eye is on the door.


2. Perhaps I do know a side of Councilman McCloskey that you don't know-- but that's because I took the time to look past the gruff appearance and learn about a man who has dedicated many years of his RETIRED life to learning about and being involved in the politics of this city.

The Councilman is a true representation of a certain segment of Toledo's population. He is a raw, unprocessed, blue-collar guy. Perhaps a good reason he's the #2 vote getter.

Does he speak in ways that torque people's sense of political correctness? Sure. Does he hurt people's feelings because of his unprocessed demeanor? Sure. Does he stand his ground when publicly challenged? Sure.
Does he have the luxury and benefit of higher education, a middle class upbringing, or the intense self-reflection that being on a college campus would allow? Absolutely Not.
And yet…
Who was a key supporter of Toledo's hate crime law-- sponsored by Councilman Escobar? McCloskey-- why? Because he wanted people in Toledo to be safe regardless of race or orientation.

Who fought for an 89-year-old woman to keep her house when she got snagged in a predatory lending situation? McCloskey. Why? An 89-year-old woman shouldn't have to worry about keeping her house-- she'd be there 30 years, how could someone prey on her. Certain other members of council chose to gut Toledo’s effort at a predatory lending law… even though his district is most at prey.

Who called every agency in south Toledo together after gang-related drive-by shootings ripped through the community a few years ago? McCloskey. Why? Because "our kids" need stuff to do-- we need to reach them. What happened to the effort? The Latino's declared it was their issue and since he wasn't Latino, he wasn't the person to convene such a gathering...

I'm not trying to make the Councilman seem like Mother Teresa. I'm simply frustrated that in his years on council, he is one (of maybe two council members) who has consistently looked out for the average Toledoan. He’s never sought credit for the good he’s done. If you asked him about these things, he’d probably shrug and mumble something about how he didn’t do it. I truly believe that he was merely fighting for the seniors who needed prescription drug coverage. Show me where he gets any benefit on this???


3. Finally, how much do you see the Councilman using his "high profile" position to bring him personal benefit? What tangible benefits do you see him getting from this high profile position --other that being second-guessed by people who've never walked in his shoes? No -- I don't see him on of the 12. But, I do not see him working that council seat as “self- servingly” as say... Szollosi, Copland, Ashford, Kapszukiewicz, or Zmuda-- the list goes on... can I get a McConnell Hancock, anyone? All of them career politicians, climbers looking for the next stop on the public trough express... They’re loyalty is for the minute… and mostly to themselves-- that’s all.

ConscienceDefended said...

Regarding backlash of sympathy... I've always felt this way, but was bound by a loyalty to council that i didn't feel i could say anything.

historymike said...

I wouldn't praise Bob's support for gays - he was quite willing to attack Dave Schulz on Bob Frantz's show for his sexual orientation in October.

Also, methinks he still owes Toledoans a better explanation of his cozy relationship with Brock Rimelin:

link

ConscienceDefended said...

I find it interesting that you haven't responded to any of the challenges...

Its clear that we will continue to differ egarding Councilman McCloskey. While I did not hear Councilman McCloskey's comments on the radio, I would bet that they fit into my contention that he's not processed, he's not sophistocated, and he's not sensitive to political correctness. I actually find that refreshing in some sense because at least you know what your dealing with--rather than some sanitized non offensive patter that most in public life will strive to concoct. The thing that drew my respect for the councilman was that he was willing to listen-- and willing to be educated.

As for Schultz, I thought his campaign was a rip off on Betty's name and campaign style. The photo, in my opinion, was clearly cheap bid to appeal somewhat deceptively or atleast subliminally to the family values crowd. Yes, anyone could read the fine print... but who ever does anything with campaign materials except check out the pictures and the bullets if there are any. What's the first conclusion, without words that ordinary folks would jump to looking at the picture chosen for Schultz's campaign literature? As a gay person in Toledo, that cheap play among other things cost him my vote.

My aim has only been to provide an alternative perspective on Councilman McCloskey, not become his defense council. I will not say he's perfect, but...he's nothing less than a representation of Toledo's historic working class. If you are sincere about having a reformed representative style of government, you have to represent everyone. I will defend his conscience and his innocence. There are others who are far worse for Toledo than Councilman McCloskey.

Its been fun exchanging ideas and opinions with you. I appreciate your willingness to accept my comments.

historymike said...

CD:

I did not address the particulars of your last post only because I am bogged down today. I'll give you a more detailed response this evening.

historymike said...

CD:

1. We will have to agree to disagree about District vs. At-Large seats, but I have been equally critical of Betty Schultz in this regard. I think 12 years should apply to ALL council seats.

2. My opinions about Mr. McCloskey have been colored by a few dealings with him that I would rather not recount because they were trivial, but which I freely admit that I carry something of a grudge over. I have, however, informed my editors, and I do not write on matters McCloskey as a reporter.

3. I would argue that McCloskey is every bit as much of a "career politician" as the others - he just got a later start than some in the game. I do not buy into the idea that some selfless motivation is what drives him, but I do agree that he takes care of the regular people in his district as well as anyone (except when Carty was a rep - that man was the king of gladhanding and backscratching, and - yes - self-serving promotion).

-Sepp said...

No matter how noble or selfless a politician may appear in the public eye, it counts for nothing when his hand is caught in the cookie jar. Let alone being dumb enough to leave a recording asking where his bribe money is! Personally, I think there is far more than meets the eye in this scandal. I'm sure there are other members of council holding their breath hoping Bob won't start dropping names. Think about it. Council can't even elect a president without days of drama and turmoil but can turn down a zoning request at the beheadst of Bob McCloskey without thinking twice? Next we have the apparent news blackout of the entire scandal until after the election? There was a small mention of this over a year ago and then...nothing. Seems the blade could have been on a roll after nailing the Noe corruption but deemed it better to report nothing about Bob until after he was elected. The joke is on the local taxpayer who's money will be spent defending Bob's indescretion. I'm willing to bet that we will find out that greasing city councilmen is just the way business gets done in Toledo. Any questions why Maumee, P-burg and Sylvania are growing by leaps and bounds?

Hooda Thunkit said...

Sorry for joining in so late. I think that Bob will skate on all charges.

Rememmber that in Toledo politics is a contact sport, giving the heavies the edge in all contests.

New York or Chicago ain't got nuttin on Toledo, politics wise.

The mere fact that the "bribe" was not solicited directly for McCloskey is enough to get him a wink and a nudge plus a tap on wrist and a "Don't get caught doing it again," from the bench...