Incoming Attorney General Marc Dann has just announced the replacement for his Youngtown Senate seat: Capri Cafaro
Cafaro, a former child prodigy who graduated from Stanford while still in her teens, is the billionaire daughter of mall builder J.J. Cafaro. In 2004, she lost in a not-quite close House race to Republican incumbent Steve LaTourette. She also lost in the Democratic primary this year for the seat being vacated by U.S. Senator-elect Sherrod Brown.
But if Republicans were stung by widespread corruption scandals, Cafaro's not exactly a squeaky clean replacement.
In 1999, she was named president of USAerospace Group, which owned the patent to laser-guided aircraft technology that was supposed to help jets navigate landings. With congressional and Federal Aviation Administration backing, the system could rake in millions. So to get it, Cafaro's father bribed former Youngstown Congressman James Traficant. J.J. was sentenced to 15 months probation and a $150,000 fine.
What was never made clear was Capri's role. She was granted immunity in exchange for testifying and the feds never revealed whether she'd been targeted in the investigation.
But the one thing that was always asked about Capri, says Bertram de Souza, columnist for the Youngstown Vindicator: "Was she just a figurehead in a company that her father owned, or did she have day-to-day responsibility? If she had day-to-day responsibilities and was not aware what was going on, then what exactly was she doing?"
Apparently, the Ohio Democratic team has chosen to ignore these transgressions. Upon hearing that Cafaro would replace Dann until his term ends in 2008, Democratic leader Teresa Fedor of Toledo was quoted as saying how pleased she was with the choice: "Our caucus is based soundly in the principles of putting forth for Ohio not only a good government but a transparent government one that Ohioans can trust is efficient and effective," she said.
Hmmm. —Rebecca Meiser