‘Master of Disaster’ Helps Finance Heimlich Campaign
Stan Chesley has a reputation as a “limousine liberal” who provides copious amounts of money to Democratic issues and candidates, but one of the nationally renowned lawyer’s latest pet causes is helping re-elect arch-conservative Hamilton County Commission President Phil Heimlich.
Campaign finance records show that Chesley has donated $12,500 to Heimlich’s campaign. Heimlich, a Republican incumbent, is running against Democratic challenger David Pepper, a former Cincinnati city councilman.
Chesley’s contribution is at odds with statements he made about Pepper in a Nov. 21, 2001, column in The Cincinnati Enquirer. Chesley reminisced about when Pepper mentioned he first was planning to run for city council: “‘I wanted to gobble him up as a Democrat as quickly as I could, before the evil forces of the other side took him,’ said Mr. Chesley, laughing. ‘I was impressed from the get-go. He’s his own person.’”
But Chesley also has ties to Heimlich and Hamilton County government.
Chesley is representing Hamilton County in its legal challenges against the Bengals and the National Football League about the construction and lease terms of the county-owned Paul Brown Stadium. The county alleged the team and the NFL violated anti-trust laws by using trade restraints to force the county to pay far more to build the $458 million stadium than a free marketplace would have required.
Heimlich provided the critical second vote on the three-member county commission that was needed to file the lawsuit, and he again cast the deciding vote in March when commissioners decided to appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of the case.
Also, Chesley held a fundraiser for Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro in his failed Republican gubernatorial bid. Heimlich was briefly Petro’s running mate. Later, Petro appointed Chesley’s law firm to represent the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority in its lawsuit against a pension investment fund.
Among his many political activities, Chesley is known for his friendship with President Bill Clinton, and he hosted Clinton at his Amberley Village estate three times over the years. Clinton appointed Chesley’s wife, Susan Dlott, to fill a judgeship on the U.S. District Court.
Ironically, one of the main attacks that Heimlich’s campaign plans to lodge against his opponent is Pepper’s involvement in helping negotiate the Collaborative Agreement, a settlement of a racial profiling lawsuit against Cincinnati police that resulted in numerous police reforms. Dlott approved the agreement and oversees compliance.
Making the arrangement even stranger, others who supported the accord included noted Republicans ranging from County Commissioner Pat DeWine and Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. to then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Chesley’s contribution to Heimlich isn’t the first time the well-heeled lawyer has given to GOP candidates. Chesley gave $4,000 to the Hamilton County Republican Party’s judicial campaign fund this year, and gave $2,000 in 2005. Further, he gave $625 to the county GOP’s campaign committee last year, which supports the party’s general fund and provides local candidate support.
— Kevin Osborne