By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — John Donofrio, the Democratic candidate for state treasurer, has received what may be the most widely circulated endorsement in the nation.
Mr. Donofrio, who is running against Republican Joseph Deters, was lauded yesterday by Mary Ellen Withrow, the Treasurer of the United States, whose personal signature appears on every piece of U.S. paper currency.
Ms. Withrow held the office Mr. Donofrio is seeking from 1983 to 1994. A Clinton administration appointee, she is the only person in American history to serve as a county treasurer, a state treasurer, and U.S. treasurer.
“John Donofrio has been an excellent county treasurer for 20 years, and he’ll be an excellent state treasurer,” Mrs. Withrow said. “Doesn’t it make sense to elect a county treasurer to be the state treasurer? It’s a no-brainer.”
Mr. Donofrio has been the Summit County treasurer since 1979. Mr. Deters is the Hamilton County prosecutor – a point Mr. Donofrio has criticized in this campaign.
“Taking care of the public’s money is very different from being a prosecuting attorney,” Mrs. Withrow said.
She singled out for criticism Mr. Deters’ stance on the state’s linked deposit programs. Under the programs, created by Mrs. Withrow, the state agrees to deposit a small portion of its money in a local Ohio bank. In exchange, the bank makes the money available to small businesses and farms for loans at 3 per cent below the standard interest rate.
Mr. Donofrio runs a similar program in Summit County, for which he received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties.
In a newspaper interview in June, Mr. Deters called the program a “subsidy” and said that “if a business can’t survive in today’s economy, it probably shouldn’t be in business.”
Mrs. Withrow disagreed.
“It’s an investment, not a subsidy,” she said.
Last week, Mr. Deters accused Mr. Donofrio of spreading “inaccurate information” and said he supports linked deposit, with additional tools to detect abuse.
As a result, the Donofrio campaign changed its television ad, which had said that Mr. Deters “will cut link deposits.” The ad, which began airing statewide yesterday, now says that Mr. Donofrio “will continue” the programs.