Every time you turn around, some Ohio leader is racing from the state treasury in a hail of bullets, sacks of cash under his arms. To make it even more confusing, Ohio's Republican Mafiosi can't sit still. They play a perpetual game of musical chairs, shuffling between attorney general, auditor, and secretary of state, everybody jockeying to someday become godfather . . . er, governor.
The list of Republican scandals is so long, it's tough to keep track of them all. That's why we compiled this easy-to-use guide. Can't remember whether the latest scam involves the legislation-selling senator or the treasury-raiding "anti-tax advocate"? Look no further. As a public service, we present Ohio's Most Wanted.
Larry Householder, a.k.a. "The Hammer"
Gang affiliation: Speaker, Ohio House of Representatives
Wanted for: Selling legislation, intimidation, money-laundering, illegal campaign fund-raising.
Distinguishing characteristic: Bruises from flip-flopping across Statehouse floor. After years pushing for "tort reform" and referring to trial lawyers as "millionaire jackpot-justice jackals," Householder hit up lawyers for $116,000 in campaign contributions. Suddenly, tort-reform bills started sleeping with the fishes in dead-end committees.
Criminal history: Had 12-year plan to take over Ohio by selling legislation to highest bidder. Laundered money through secret party accounts and puppet nonprofit groups to fund campaign for statewide office in 2006.
Last seen: Punching the heavy bag in the Statehouse gym, growling at insurance lobbyists on their girly elliptical machines.
Alibi: "It's unfortunate that some people are more interested in playing politics" -- the standard line for those caught playing politics.
Should be considered: Extremely dangerous. Though wounded in battles with federal investigators and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Householder still has millions stashed in the moonshine shacks of Perry County. Also believed to have rabies.
Bob Taft, a.k.a. "Bobbie Dynomite"
Gang affiliation: Governor's office
Wanted for: Theft, defamation of character.
Distinguishing characteristic: Lumps in every suit pocket, where he hides his brass knuckles. Taft is the shy bean-counter type who fights like a hellcat when cornered. Ran ads accusing Democrat Lee Fisher of voting to raise taxes 27 times, when in fact Fisher had proposed $520 million tax cut.
Criminal history: Like some of his Republican colleagues, Taft enjoys crimes involving copious amounts of blood. Before his 2002 reelection campaign, he swiped $1 million from state's hemophilia program to pay for "tourism" ads featuring Taft surrounded by smiling children.
Last seen: Under desk, hiding from Republican legislators who call him "weak" and "rudderless." In public. Ouch.
Alibi: Like any whiner, Taft likes to throw a sucker punch then claim self-defense. Asked why he ran deceptive ads against Fisher, Taft said, "We knew that he would go negative."
Should be considered: Unemployed. With both Senate and House in open rebellion against him, Taft might as well spend the last two years of his term playing Madden NFL 2004 on the sweet new plasma TV in the governor's mansion.
Emmanuel Onunwor, a.k.a. "Baby Doc"
Gang affiliation: East Cleveland Mayor's office
Wanted for: 23 counts of bribery, extortion, racketeering, public corruption, mail fraud, witness-tampering, and lying on income-tax returns.
Distinguishing characteristics: Coconut-sized balls and a head that whistles like an empty conch shell. Onunwor admitted that for eight years, he accepted a monthly $1,000 bribe from a city contractor. Proceeded to tip contractor off to FBI's investigation while wearing an FBI wire!
Criminal history: A master at playing a pair of deuces like a royal flush. When then-State Auditor Jim Petro declared that East Cleveland City Hall was "skating on thin ice," Onunwor angrily insisted that the city was on the right track. Weeks later, he fired all 23 of the city's EMS workers.
Last seen: Sleeping with the enemy. After the Republican legislature spent two decades ignoring East Cleveland's slide into the Third World, Onunwor joined the party in 2002 (five months after he won reelection). Democrats outnumber Republicans in East Cleveland 25 to 1.
Alibi: "I am innocent until proven guilty in a court of law." Which lacks the subtle grace of "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit."
Should be considered: Harmless. Anyone who confesses to crimes while wearing a wire is more dangerous to himself than to others.
Jeff Jacobson, a.k.a. "Six Fingers"
Gang affiliation: Ohio Senate
Wanted for: Money-laundering, perjury, illegal campaign fund-raising.
Distinguishing characteristics: "Aw, shucks" demeanor that almost hides the darting eyes and twitchy fingers of a top-flight pickpocket.
Criminal history: This fast-talking confidence man reinvented three-card monte. While drafting new campaign-finance laws, Jacobson used loopholes in existing law (which he also wrote) to fund his campaign for Senate president. By funneling money through a straw man, he covertly hired Householder's fund-raising henchmen, Brett Buerck and Kyle Sisk. They laundered cash through secret party accounts before passing it on to Jacobson's campaign.
Last seen: Advertising his criminal skills to future clients. "The longer I'm here, the more I learn about things the law books don't teach about the legislative process," he said.
Alibi: Two days after denying everything, Jacobson confessed. "I know, I know, I know," he told The Plain Dealer. "All right. I am a jerk."
Should be considered: Very dangerous. In two years, nobody will remember Jacobson's brush with the law, leaving him free to sell legislation at everyday low prices.
Ken Blackwell, a.k.a. "the Angel"
Gang affiliation: Secretary of State's office
Wanted for: Theft.
Distinguishing characteristic: Perpetually sprained ankle from throwing himself in front of too many TV cameras.
Criminal history: Loves to play hero in "Poor Little Taxpayer vs. Big Bad Government" dramas, but keeps getting caught with his hand in taxpayers' pockets. Tried to steal $15.3 million for "campaign-style media tour" to promote voting. Tour actually promoted voting for Blackwell for governor in 2006.
Last seen: Smiling smugly as he wrote his 972nd subpoena to Jim Petro.
Alibi: Deflected attention away from his own misdeeds by calling on Householder to resign for all the "political racketeering on his watch." Turned off mic before muttering, "That lucky son of a bitch."
Should be considered: Delusional. He's a black Republican, for chrissakes. That's like being a stripper at a bachelor party: Everybody wants a photo with you before they screw you.
Scott Pullins, a.k.a. "The Hit Man"
Gang affiliation: Ohio Taxpayers Association
Wanted for: Illegal campaign fund-raising, money-laundering.
Distinguishing characteristics: Deep-set eyes, thinning hair greased back in ever-popular "adult-filmmaker" style.
Criminal history: Pullins took money Householder had donated to the non-profit Ohio Taxpayers Association and funneled it into his for-profit P.R. firm. He used the money to fund a smear campaign against a candidate who aroused Householder's ire by voting against the largest tax hike in state history.
Last seen: Carving up a copy of the Ohio Tax Code, Shawshank-style, to hide the hatchet he carries for the Householder crime family.
Alibi: When conservative Ohio University econ professor Richard Vedder questioned Pullins's undercover work for Householder, Pullins called his former prof a "slobbering, drunken old fool."
Should be considered: Harmless. With Householder running for cover, Pullins is believed to be seeking new opportunities in the waste-management industry.
Betty Montgomery, a.k.a. "The Blade"
Gang affiliation: State Auditor's office
Wanted for: Selling state contracts, construction fraud.
Distinguishing characteristic: Bird crap on shoulder. When the state built a new crime lab, then-Attorney General Montgomery ignored construction mishaps that led to giant cracks in the walls, water damage, and a massive pigeon infestation, all of which nearly destroyed crime-scene evidence.
Criminal history: In exchange for campaign contributions, signed off on $25 million no-bid contract for Bank One to administer Ohio's child-support system, double the amount paid by similarly sized states. Affectionately referred to Bank One as the Republican Party's "Little Western Union."
Last Seen: Receiving oversized greeting card from bank executives with the inscription, "Betty, thanks $25 million!"
Alibi: "We did what we wanted," she told a Plain Dealer reporter.
Should be considered: Extremely dangerous. Currently front-runner in the three-way fight to succeed Boss Taft.
Alex Arshinkoff, a.k.a. "The Fairy Godfather"
Gang affiliation: Chair, Summit County Republican Party
Wanted for: Intimidation, gross sexual imposition.
Distinguishing characteristics: Quick yet supple hands, the better to grope male government employees.
Criminal history: Elected officials who stack their offices with Arshinkoff's unqualified patronage employees are set for life (just ask Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor). But if they piss off Arshinkoff, politicians can expect this "pro-family" Republican to get every one of their government-employed family members shit-canned.
Last seen: Scoping Cleveland gay bars like The Grid and the Leather Stallion, looking for lithe young men to, um, run for Summit County sheriff?
Alibi: While promoting State Representative Bryan Williams to the job of county elections director, Arshinkoff said, "If he is qualified to be mayor, he is qualified to be director of the board of elections." Neglected to mention that Williams had lost the mayor's race to incumbent Don Plusquellic by a humiliating 70 percent.
Should be considered: Extremely dangerous, yet vulnerable. He could be chairman for life, as long as nobody tells rank-and-file Republicans that Arshinkoff is gay. Oops!
Joe Deters, a.k.a. "The Wizard"
Gang affiliation: State Treasurer's office
Wanted for: Selling state contracts.
Distinguishing characteristic: Always wears traffic-cop uniform to help direct incoming bribes and outgoing state contracts.
Criminal history: In exchange for $200,000 in kickbacks, gave $11.8 billion in state bond-trading business to top allies; $5.9 billion went to famously crooked stockbroker Frank Gruttadauria, now serving seven years.
Last seen: Pretending he still has a career. "I was cleared," he protested to The Plain Dealer. So was his day planner, which is now wide open after 2006.
Alibi: Of his two free rides on Gruttadauria's Learjet, Deters says, "It's not unusual that people offer or provide that kind of transportation. It's just the way it is."
Should be considered: Toast. After his sweetheart deals cost the state hundreds of millions in lost investment money, Deters will have trouble explaining that four-year gap on his Taco Bell job application.
Rob Tongren, a.k.a. "Shark Tooth"
Gang affiliation: Ohio Consumers Counsel
Wanted for: Accessory to robbery, dereliction of duty, destroying public documents, minor graft.
Distinguishing characteristic: Walks around town carrying a $51.95 Christmas ham sealed with the note: "Rob, you da man! Love, Your friends at Columbia Gas!"
Criminal history: Gave a consultant $579,000 to figure out how much FirstEnergy should be allowed to charge for electricity. Consultant found company deserved only $2.6 billion. Rob gave FirstEnergy $12.4 billion instead, then tried to destroy the report.
Last seen: Sharpening the blades on his paper shredder.
Alibi: Denies "any wrongdoing whatsoever." Manages to look completely sincere by repeating to self, "Think of puppies, think of puppies."
Should be considered: A little dangerous, by virtue of Jacobson's protection. Look for Tongren to disappear, then return to the Statehouse with a lobbyist's license and a suntan.
Jim Petro, a.k.a. "Stevie Wonder"
Gang affiliation: Attorney General's office
Wanted for: Illegal campaign-financing and dereliction of duty.
Distinguishing characteristic: A lazy eye that never seems to focus on Householder's obvious lawbreaking.
Criminal history: Petro gave illegal kickbacks to Householder's top fund-raiser and looked the other way when an insurance broker in Householder's hometown embezzled $301,000 from county workers' medical plan.
Last seen: Blowing $3 million a year on addiction to worthless DARE anti-drug program.
Alibi: When caught green-lighting $14 million worth of salary bonuses for employees of the state's bankrupt teachers' retirement system, Petro said, "I feel a little bit responsible."
Should be considered: Dangerous. If Petro succeeds in jump-starting Matrix, a computer system that allows cops to share suspect information across state lines, Petro could get the fingerprints of every Democrat in the state and track his enemies by satellite. Could also pose a threat to Trinity and Morpheus.