Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

The Sweet Life 

Godfather goes best.

Arshinkoff has the strongest county party in Ohio, says - state Representative Jim Trakas.
  • Arshinkoff has the strongest county party in Ohio, says state Representative Jim Trakas.

Russ Pry, chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, doesn't get a stipend for meals, a lease for his car, or even a salary. Jim Trakas, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republicans, gets a flat $30,000 a year.

Alex Arshinkoff has a much better deal. According to the Summit County GOP's finance reports, Arshinkoff earns $3,070 a month. He also earns $10,000 a year for serving on the Board of Elections, which comes with the job. All of it comes in addition to his earnings as a lobbyist.

There's more: The party pays for his monthly $649 Audi lease, travel expenses, and as many as three meals a day, from the Diamond Grille in Akron to Morton's of Chicago in Cleveland.

Details of the lavish expenditures were released only after a fight. County Democrats noticed in 2001 that the Republicans were listing huge lump sums in their reports under such elastic titles as "payroll, rent, expenses, misc. items." And while state law allows a party to establish separate operating funds for such items and not itemize them, the GOP hadn't done that, says Andy Padrutt, the Democrat's executive director. From 1998 to 2000, Republican "miscellaneous" expenses totaled $1.1 million.

After the Democrats started raising hell, Republicans released itemized numbers for the first eight months of 2001, then quickly established the separate fund. But Democrats are now pushing for the Ohio Elections Commission to force the GOP to retroactively account for its mysterious $1.1 million.

It's hard to blame them for their curiosity. In the eight months alone, the party spent a staggering $15,369 on food, $8,232 on travel, and $2,438 on gas and vehicle maintenance. Democrats are salivating over what they might find with three years' worth of expenses. "What are they spending this money on? And why are they afraid to disclose it?" Padrutt asks. "They've been kicking and screaming to avoid doing it. And if I were a party loyalist, I'd want to know."

Chris Bleuenstein recently resigned from his GOP party positions, partly over concerns about the expenditures. "There's no way I can prove this, but all the talk about [Arshinkoff] using the party funds for himself, when all of us are making contributions . . ." Bleuenstein says. "To me, it's just mismanagement."

Trakas, who isn't familiar with the Summit County books, says there are probably good reasons for the spending. "For years, he was making virtually nothing," he says. "He's certainly not profiting off politics."

Still, Padrutt notes, "We don't have the money to spend on our chairman's meals. We need the money to get candidates elected."


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Sarah Fenske

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Cavs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder @ Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse

    • Sat., Jan. 22
  • NBA Rising Stars Game @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

    • Thu., Feb. 17
  • Monsters vs. Grand Rapids Griffins @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

    • Wed., Feb. 23

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation