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October 4, 2005

Follow the money... in Ohio.

-- by Thomas Leavitt

[UPDATE: See entry above on the scandalously high salaries ($185,000 for 15 hours a week?!?) that Nememiah Corp. of America pays it's executives. -Thomas]

Dave commented on this article, Empty houses, falling prices: A boom dies, in a recent post... what really caught my attention was this:

"Homebuilders across the country, including Dominion Homes, have found a way around a Federal law barring sellers from giving money directly to buyers for a down payment. They route the money through charities such as the Nehemiah Corp. of America, a faith-based group in California. Nehemiah provides down payments for both existing and new homes, and its relationship with Dominion is the largest of its kind in central Ohio between a builder and charity.
"Nehemiah uses a loophole in federal regulations that allows charities to provide the 3% down payment required to qualify for Federal Housing Administration mortgages. An uncounted number of copycats have followed, leading to an explosion of 'zero-down' loans. Federal authorities do not regulate or track such organizations."

Now if you're like me, your first reaction to the above statement was something along the lines of "That's outrageous! How can that be legal? Can you really (ab)use a non-profit chairity for private gain like this?"

The answer is, I don't know - and I hope someone more capable than me actually takes a hard look at that question. However, Dave taught that one of the most important things you can do when trying to understand something political is to follow the money. As a result, here's what I do know, courtesy of a few minutes research at the PoliticalMoneyLine web site (there's probably a non-commercial alternative, but this is good enough for me):

A heck of a lot of money has been slathered on politicians in Ohio from individuals associated with Dominion Homes (primarily the Borror family, which runs the company). Well over $100,000 since 2002, and even more since 1998 (going all the way back to 1984),

Here's what I searched for:

a) Dominion Homes as an employer
b) Borror (last name of their Chairman and CEO, Doug Borror) as an individual donor
c) Borror as an employer (Borror Corporation appears to have been a company run by the Borror family)

Lots of results.

I haven't totalled it up exactly (since I'm not a muckracking journalist), but just over the last three election cycles, a rough estimate says that between $90,000 and $100,000 has been donated by the Borror family alone. On top of that, $20,000 was donated to the National Republican Governors Association during that period by Dominion Homes. And even more by employees (~ $2000 for the 2006 election cycle, ~$30,000 for the 2004 cycle, ~$4000 for the 2002 cycle, exclusive of the Borror family). Pretty widely spread too.

That kind of money buys a lot of access. A lot of opportunities to plead your case, and point out what a good citizen you and your corporation have been. A lot of reasons for the people in power to not look too closely at the ethics of whatever is happening with that apparently captive non-profit organization.

Anyone in Ohio care to ask your local politicians how they feel about taking money from these folks? Willing to look into whether anything else interesting emerges from a close look at the numbers and donor lists by someone who knows more than I do?

(See the follow-up post: $185,000 for 15 hours a week?)

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at October 4, 2005 2:32 AM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Follow the money... in Ohio.:

» The Debate Continues from The WB42 5:30 Report With Doug Krile
Still tons of blog chatter about the Harriet Miers nomination. But that's just the beginning. [Read More]

Tracked on October 4, 2005 12:41 PM

» Home building & money laundering from peoplehavethepower.org
Seeing The Forest has an interesting piece on homebuilders funneling money to buyers through non-profit organizations. Problem? Yeah, it's kind of illegal. Not surprisingly, Ohio politicians are involved. Dominion has already scrubbed their websit... [Read More]

Tracked on October 5, 2005 6:59 AM


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