Shocking Takeaways from Frank Jackson's $150,000 Haul at Gates Mills Fat Cat Fundraiser

click to enlarge Protesters taped fake money to their clothes; Frank's Fat Cat Festival Protest (6/28/17) - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Protesters taped fake money to their clothes; Frank's Fat Cat Festival Protest (6/28/17)
Of the 145 individuals and PACs that combined to give Mayor Frank Jackson $148,017 at a controversial June fundraiser in Gates Mills, only one listed a Cleveland home address.

According to Frank Jackson's most recent semiannual campaign finance report, one which illustrated the vast disparity between Jackson's fundraising and the rest of the Cleveland mayoral candidates', the majority of Jackson's contributors who attended the "Fat Cat" fundraiser worked in the fields of finance, law and real estate in downtown Cleveland. Many of them identified their workplace addresses, not their homes.

But over the nine pages on which the fundraiser's contributions were tabulated, only two Cleveland home addresses appeared. One, on Edgewater Drive, is the listed office address of a specialty auto appraiser. This may also be his home. The other, on Grayton Road on Cleveland's west side, does appear to be a residential address.

(Note: Some of the employees who listed office addresses may live in Cleveland, but that's not reflected in the report.)

(Note 8/8: As a commenter mentioned below, Fred Geis lives in a condo in downtown Cleveland.)

Forgetting the bad PR, the event was an enormous financial success. It raised, in a single evening, nearly three times more than any one of Jackson's challengers has raised in all of 2017.

Six individuals gave Jackson the maximum $5,000 allowable contribution that night: developer Fred Geis, listing his office's Streetsboro headquarters; James Johnson, from Nashville, Tenn.; developer Scott Marous, listing his office's Willoughby headquarters; Randall Myerhoff, CEO of the accounting firm Cohen & Company, listing his office's downtown Cleveland headquarters; Frank Sinito, the Millennia Cos. CEO, who now owns Key Tower, listing his Valley View offices; and Jerry Sue Thornton, former Tri-C President, listing her Moreland Hills home.

Twenty-three individual contributors from Myerhoff's team at Cohen & Company gave to Jackson at the June 28 event, for a grand total of $25,000 from the company.

Of the PACs who contributed at the fundraiser, the Greater Cleveland Partnership was the most generous, giving $5,000. (The next day, however, Jackson received the maximum $7,500 contribution from three local construction unions and from two PACs from the Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) of Ohio.) PACs representing KeyCorp, Huntington and PNC also gave at the Gates Mills event.

The most original individual contribution came from communications consultant Robert Falls. He gave $2017.00, presumably to mark the year.

Five attorneys from the law firm Roetzel & Andress contributed to Jackson on June 28 as well. That included Akron-based attorney Stephen Funk, who is representing Cleveland's law director Barbara Langhenry in the city's Q Deal suit. According to Cleveland's department of public records, Roetzel & Andress attorneys have represented the City or its employees "in a number of cases unrelated to the litigation involving the referendum petition."

But in June and July, Funk and two associates billed the city $15,952 for work preparing materials related to the Q Deal suit.

The five Roetzel attorneys, including Funk and the firm's chairman Robert Blackham, each gave $1,000 to Jackson's campaign at the Gates Mills fundraiser.

Activist Greg Coleridge, who has fought to limit the power of money in politics, told Scene last week that he was nervous about Jackson's powerful connections.

"Those with the power to deliver goodies to corporations and wealthy individual campaign investors and those with the ability to access mega dollars from the same crowd always benefit from high political contribution limits," he said. "...This almost always comes at the expense of the vast majority of citizens whose lack of political contributions means a lack of political access and voice."

The signs that protesters carried outside the Gates Mills fundraiser articulated much the same message.

"I don't mind you being rich," read one. "I mind you buying our government!"

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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