Democrat Armond Budish is in his last term as a Cleveland area state representative. He’s now running for Cuyahoga County Executive, the job that Ed Fitzgerald doesn’t want anymore.
Budish has hosted a TV show aimed at seniors for years. But a more recent contract that he has with Cuyahoga County is raising questions. MetroHealth hospital, which is funded by the county, pays $100,000 per year to appear on the program. From the Plain Dealer’s Andrew Tobias:
Since December 2011, Budish’s weekly infomercial “Golden Opportunities,” a show that caters toward senior citizens and airs Sunday mornings on WKYC, has held an advertising contract with MetroHealth.
In exchange for $100,000 a year — $80,000 of which covers airtime on WKYC, $20,000 of which pays for the show’s production costs — a representative of MetroHealth is guaranteed to appear in every episode of the show for at least three minutes, according to an arrangement letter from Budish to MetroHealth, a copy of which was obtained through a public records request. (scroll down to read the contract)
Tim Russo, a Democratic candidate for county executive and unemployed political consultant, first raised questions about Budish’s contract with MetroHealth in a blog post last week.
Russo is running against Budish in the primary and describes the contract as “money laundering” and that it is evidence that corruption is still rampant within the ranks of the Democrats who run Cuyahoga County. Russo has called for Ed Fitzgerald to void the contract. He uploaded a video where Budish was directly asked how much he gets paid by Metrohealth.
Budish says he receives nothing from Elder Productions and Metrohealth. However, new information has come to light. A source, who refuses to be named, has recently claimed that Armond Budish himself told him that the $20,000 per year “production costs” really go to Budish’s wife.
The accuser presents no evidence of this, so it is an unsubstantiated rumor at this point.
But the “production costs” do raise questions. Who produces the show? What are the specific expenses? Another one of Budish’s sponsors says that their production contact is Budish himself. Hmmm.
These are questions that Ed Fitzgerald should be interested in clearing up, if he wants to keep saying that corruption in the county is a thing of the past. He might want to take a closer look at where $200,000 of taxpayer money has gone in the last two years, and whether Armond Budish’s TV show was a good investment. Maybe Russo has a point that Fitzgerald should have voided the contract.
As an aside, I certainly don’t side with either Russo or Budish. Jack Schron is by far the most qualified candidate running for county executive. He’s an Army veteran and knows what it takes to create jobs. His company, based in Cleveland, exports products around the world and employs hundreds of Ohioans.