Portune Laughs at Finney’s Charge of a ‘Liberal Cabal’ in Hamilton County
Is there a secret “liberal cabal” working behind the scenes in conservative Cincinnati, or are such allegations merely the overheated rhetoric of a Republican political consultant in an election year?
Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat included in the alleged cabal by attorney Christopher Finney, pointedly mocked the assertion in an e-mail sent Friday evening to Finney, who is the political mentor of Hamilton County Commission President Phil Heimlich.
Among other salient points, Portune noted that Republicans have staunchly controlled county government since the Vietnam War era, a period in which taxes soared and population declined.
As regular readers of this blog already know, we first wrote about Finney’s invitation for a planned “meet and greet” event for Heimlich’s re-election campaign on Aug. 25. Then, based on reader requests, we printed the full text of the invitation on Aug. 28.
The invitation read, in part, “On the county commission, Phil has steadily pursued a policy of fiscal responsibility, keeping taxes and spending below the rate of inflation. This follows the past two decades in which taxes and spending rose more than double and triple the rate of inflation. This fiscal reform has been done, predictably, in the face of stiff and consistent opposition from a liberal cabal of social service groups, left-wing media and, yes, liberal Democrat Todd Portune.”
Portune, who recently read the invitation’s full text, fired back Friday. In an e-mail to Finney, he called the allegations “astonishing.”
Portune wrote, “After I stopped laughing, it occurred to me that you might actually believe this. Hamilton County’s been under Republican rule for 30
years. If there’s a liberal cabal and left-wing media conspiracy, you’re
the only one who seems to be aware of it. Chris, what have you been smoking?”
(Actually, before Portune was elected in late 2000, the last Democrat served on the county commission 36 years earlier, in the mid-1960s.)
Portune continued, “Another thing, I wouldn’t be so quick to make accusations of secret-keeping and conspiracy. The way Phil conducts county business
behind closed doors, he could give the NSA some tips. Then there’s the
matter of Phil’s relationships with those he favors with county appointments.
Chris, your rhetoric’s on full boil and it’s only Labor Day. You might
want to pace yourself.”
We would have called Finney to get his comments. After a previous blog entry noting that his and Heimlich’s calculations about savings from a property tax rollback included in a proposed sales tax increase were incorrect, however, Finney advised us on Aug. 25 he would never speak to this blog or CityBeat again.
The one sentence reply that ended an e-mail exchange with Finney read, “Do not call me again.”
Until the edict is lifted, we won’t.
— Kevin Osborne