After Cincinnati City Council member Chris Seelbach traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit the White House to receive the Harvey Milk "Champion of Change" Award from President Obama this Spring, he and two members of his staff decided to submit the expenses to City Council for reimbursement.
There were two problems with that. First, City policy requires that in order for Council member travel to be eligible for reimbursement, it must be approved before the trip. Second, in receiving a personal award from President Obama, there was no "City business" being conducted on the trip, a requirement for use of public funds.
Thus, when COAST sought the public records about the expenditure, Seelbach stonewalled the request. COAST sued to obtain the records, revealing the obviously illegal nature of the use of public monies. When we finally obtained and reviewed the records, the misuse of public funds was apparent.
This week, COAST wrote to City Solicitor this week demanding that he recover the ill-gotten funds from Seelbach and his staff. If the City Solicitor refuses, COAST will litigate the issue. Remember, if the City Solicitor does his job and himself sues to recover the monies, COAST does not have standing before the courts to raise the issue. It is only when the Solicitor refuses to do his job, which he repeatedly has, that COAST may proceed in to Court to vindicate the public right.
The letter is below. The Enquirer has the story here.