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Joe Guillen
By Joe Guillen October 7, 2010

Ohio Secretary of State candidate Jon Husted raps opponent Maryellen O’Shaughnessy for 'her own stimulus package'

Republican Ohio Secretary of State candidate Jon Husted slammed opponent Maryellen O’Shaughnessy in a recent television advertisement as a career politician who once passed legislation to increase her own pay.

O’Shaughnessy, of Columbus, has heard the criticisms before. But that didn’t stop Husted from recycling them within a more current anti-Democrat framework.

"O’Shaughnessy even voted for her own personal stimulus package – a taxpayer-funded pay raise for herself," the commercial’s narrator says.

It’s an accusation O’Shaughnessy has heard before. Her opponent in a 2002 race for Franklin County Commissioner, Dewey Stokes, also produced a TV commercial that ripped O’Shaughnessy for raising her own pay, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

O’Shaughnessy’s campaign said she couldn’t be blamed for boosting her pay because she was ineligible for the raise after she and the rest of Columbus City Council approved it.

So what’s the truth here. PolitiFact Ohio asked Husted’s camp to back up its statement.

It pointed to an ordinance Columbus City Council passed in December 1998 to increase the salaries of council members, the council president and the mayor. The ordinance, which passed unanimously 7 to 0, increased the pay of council members and the council president 34 percent in 2000, with annual bumps of 3 percent in the next three years. That meant pay for City Council members jumped from $25,000 in 1999 to $36,607 in 2003. The pay for council president jumped from $30,000 to $44,037 over the same time. All seven members of council, including O’Shaughnessy, declined the pay raise in 2003.

The Columbus city charter discourages officeholders from voting to increase their own pay with language that says a member of council must first be elected before collecting the higher pay. "The salary of any officer, employee, or member of a board or commission in the unclassified service of the city who was elected or appointed for a definite term shall not be increased or diminished during the term for which the individual was elected or appointed…" the charter reads.

So while the pay increases council approved at the end of 1998 kicked in beginning in 2000, O’Shaughnessy was ineligible for the pay hikes in 2000 and 2001, the last two years of her first term. She didn’t qualify for a higher salary until after re-elected in 2001. She qualified for a higher salary of $35,541 when she started her new term in the beginning of 2002.

What all this means is that when O’Shaughnessy voted in favor of the 1998 ordinance to increase pay, there was no guarantee she would ever get the higher pay. She had to win re-election first.

That’s an important caveat that Husted’s ad doesn’t mention, and the point where Hustad’s attack comes unraveled.  

She didn’t approve a pay raise for herself. She voted to increase pay for whomever was elected to take that council seat. The voters decided she should get the pay raise by re-electing her in 2001.

We rate Husted’s statement False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

TV commercial for Jon Husted

Columbus City Council ordinance 3280-1998

Columbus city charter, section 15

Interview with Ryan Frazee, spokesman for Husted’s campaign

Interview with Heidi Hubmann, spokeswoman for O’Shaughnessy’s campaign

Interview with John Ivanic, spokesman for Columbus City Council

The Columbus Dispatch, "Campaign Ad Watch," Oct. 30, 2002

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Ohio Secretary of State candidate Jon Husted raps opponent Maryellen O’Shaughnessy for 'her own stimulus package'

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