Ted Strickland’s Campaign Lines Pockets of Former Aides

Strickland for Senate steers nearly $70K to former governor’s aides-turned-consultants

Ted Strickland
Ted Strickland / AP
March 8, 2016

The campaign for Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio, has paid tens of thousands of dollars to a firm run by his former aides.

Remington Road Group, a political consulting group established in 2009, has received $67,500 from Strickland’s Senate campaign in exchange for "strategic consulting," according to Federal Election Commission records. Most of the individuals employed by Remington Road Group are former aides to Strickland, who served in Congress and as Ohio’s governor, and have contributed thousands to his campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R). Some of the aides also helped Strickland set up his own consulting firm in 2011 after he left the office of governor.

Strickland’s campaign paid Remington Road Group $30,000 last April for consulting work, just weeks after he launched his bid for Senate. In July, the campaign wrote Remington Road Group a check for $30,000, and in October paid the consultancy $7,500.

As Remington Road Group has provided consulting work for Strickland for Senate, its employees have sent campaign cash to their former boss. Six of the seven employees listed on Remington Road Group’s website, as well as one of its advisers, have together contributed over $22,000 to Strickland’s campaign. Five of these individuals worked for Strickland before joining the consulting group.

The firm specializes in public and government affairs, messaging and media relations, business development, and "coalition building and management," according to its website.

Representatives for the Strickland campaign and Remington Road Group did not respond to inquiries from the Washington Free Beacon about their relationship.

Aaron Pickrell, a consultant at Remington Road Group, managed Strickland’s gubernatorial run in 2006 and later became his chief operating officer. Pickrell also managed Strickland’s failed 2010 reelection bid and went on to serve as a senior adviser to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign in Ohio. Pickrell has donated the maximum amounts to Strickland’s primary and general election campaigns for Senate, though the former governor has not yet won the primary.

John Haseley, another Remington Road Group employee, served as Strickland’s chief of staff during his tenure as Ohio’s governor and previously during his years as a congressman. Like Pickrell, Haseley has also contributed the maximum permitted amounts to Strickland’s primary and general election campaigns.

Other Remington Road Group employees who have donated to Strickland include his former policy adviser, press secretary, and legislative affairs director.

Pickrell and Haseley helped Strickland open his own consulting firm, Midwest Gateway Partners, in 2011 after his failed reelection bid for governor. The firm was established to focus on business expansion and political campaigns, and its offices were housed at the same address as Remington Road Group.

Strickland served as the chair of Midwest Gateway Partners, according to his 2011 financial disclosure statement. He also provided independent consulting work to Remington Road Group in 2011, the disclosure form indicated.

Though Midwest Gateway Partners is still an active business according to state records, its website is now defunct and redirects to Remington Road Group’s website. Pickrell listed Midwest Gateway Partners as his employer as recently as last March when disclosing a donation to the Ohio Democratic Party. He appears to have split his time between both consultancies.

The Ohio Democratic Party, which swiftly endorsed Strickland last year after he announced his campaign, has also paid thousands to his former aides working at Remington Road Group. The state party paid the group $35,000 for "field consulting" between September and December 2015, according to a review of FEC and state records.

The state party has been widely criticized for backing Strickland 11 months before the March primary, which pits Strickland against Cincinnati city councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and Kelli Prather for the Democratic nomination. Current and former Democratic officials have accused the party of prematurely endorsing Strickland over a possible rising star, the 31-year-old Sittenfeld.

Matt Borges, who chairs the Ohio Republican Party, said that Strickland’s decision to use his campaign to "enrich" his former aides should not surprise voters.

"National Democrats are already furious with Ted Strickland’s inept, low-funded, and invisible campaign, but they’ll be thrilled to know that Ted’s campaign is designed to enrich his former aides," Borges said in a statement. "Nothing surprises Ohio voters anymore when it comes to Ted Strickland and the Ohio Democratic Party."