Beer and politics to mix no more in Sycamore

Township's Republican Club banned from funneling festival beer profit into election campaigns

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A Hamilton County ethics investigation has ended with an agreement that allows the Republican-led Sycamore Township to keep giving its summer festival beer concession to the township's Republican Club as long as the club donates its profit to charity instead of to politicians' re-election campaigns.

The flap, featured last December in CityBeat, was the subject of a 2014 complaint by the Hamilton County Democratic Party to the Ohio Ethics Commission. Party Chairman Tim Burke noted that three of the township's trustees — Tom Weidman, Cliff Bishop and Dennis Connor — were officials in the Sycamore Republican Club that ran the Festival in Sycamore beer concession in 2013. Sycamore Parks and Recreation Department head Mike McKeown, who was said to have chosen the beer vendor, was a Republican Club director.

Of the $24,241 in beer profit from the 2013 festival, $17,500 went to the re-election campaigns of Weidman and Bishop. 

According to the agreement, Weidman, Bishop, Connor and McKeown have resigned from the Sycamore Republican Club. If the club is chosen to run the festival beer booth, it will have to pay its own expenses and any sponsorship fee, then donate any profit to any charity "recognizable" in the township. No profit can be steered into partisan politics.

"While three years is far too long for this blatant abuse of township power for personal political gain to go on," Burke says, "at least this slush fund is finally shut down once and for all."

The agreement was negotiated by a special prosecutor, Michael Tranter, on behalf of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who is a Republican.

CONTACT JAMES McNAIR: [email protected], 513-914-2736 or @jmacnews on Twitter

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