COAST is first and foremost a public watchdog.
We see a politician with his or her hand in the cookie jar, we set off the alarm bells. And we use every arrow in our quiver to stop it.
This Summer Chris Seelbach used public funds to reimburse himself for a trip to DC to receive a personal honor. COAST alerted the City Solicitor and the public. The City Solicitor refused to act and COAST was preparing to once again do the City Solicitor's job for him. Fortunately, public shame got the better of Mr. Seelbach. He announced that he has paid back the city for the illegal benefit. Thus eliminating the need for further legal action.
Just a few years ago, this issue would have ended up in the courtroom. No doubt resulting in protracted litigation owing to a take no prisoners attitude in the City Solicitor's office.
This is closer to how it is supposed to work. Ideally, there would be no wrongdoers to catch; and when they were caught the City Solicitor would do his job; but here at least the properly shamed public servant, acknowledged his error and repaid the ill gotten gain.
Is Seelbach to be celebrated? Do we honor the arsonist for helping to put out the fire?
Of course not. But at least it is slightly less odious than the alternative: a fight to the death over a petty official's classless abuse of the office and a City Solicitor's office that views itself as the hired muscle of the city administration rather than another set of public servants meant to protect the public trust.
But, perhaps we are seeing that the politically powerful are beginning to get the message that taking that illegal benefit will no longer be tolerated. We call that progress.
Seelbach used his sudden moment of clarity to once again attempt to fundraise off COAST, suggesting that our efforts to protect the City's purse is motivated by personal hatred.
Let us be perfectly clear, we oppose the abuse of the taxpayer and self-dealing by public officials of all stripes.
COAST discovered and stopped Sheriff Leis' misuse of public dollars in campaigning for the Jail Tax.
COAST discovered and stopped Laure Quinlivan's illegal campaigning from City Hall.
We don't target individuals based on their personal lives; our focus is solely on the official actions of those who hold power.
Mr. Seelbach's allegations are offensive and poison the political atmosphere. Cincinnati's voters, and your supporters, deserve better.