Lawmaker under fire for letter; Appeal for funds raises foe’s concern

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 16

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Bill Taylor (R., Norwalk) has been under severe criticism for a fund-raising letter that appears to promise lobbyists access in exchange for a donation to his re-election campaign.

“I can’t believe he has stooped this low,” said his 63rd House District opponent, Democrat Natalie Mosher, a former Erie County commissioner.

The 63rd District covers parts of Erie, Huron, and Lorain counties.

“Since I can’t take time from a hectic campaign schedule, please consider a direct contribution to help me win,” the letter to more than 100 lobbyists reads. “The race is tight and a final kick is vital. A fund-raiser in Columbus is simply too time consuming. Instead, I promise to buy you a drink at the earliest opportunity. You know my record and my accessibility.”

The letter concludes with the address to send checks to and Dr. Taylor’s signature.

Dr. Taylor, a dentist running for a third two-year term, defended the letter, saying that lobbyists and their donations are an important part of the way state government functions.

“That’s why they give you money, to get favorable consideration for their causes,” he said. “They give you money to help you with your race, and you give them access in return.

“When I need funds for my campaign, I’m not ashamed to say I need it,” he said.

He did say, however, that plenty of lobbyists give him nothing and still get access. “I stay easily accessible to lobbyists,” he said.

Unlike in previous elections, Dr. Taylor did not have time to hold a formal fund-raiser in Columbus this year. He said the letter and its promise of a free drink is just a substitute for the chicken dinner fund-raisers that other candidates have.

“It just means instead of us going through the motions of having a fund-raiser, just give me the money directly, and you’ll have the same access you would have if you came to my fund-raiser,” he said.

Dr. Taylor said his opponent is unfairly targeting him and running “the ugliest, dirtiest campaign I’ve ever been involved with.”

“If I felt like sending another letter next week, I’d send another one,” he said. “It’s a perfectly legitimate part of the political process … It’s naive for anyone to say that the system will ever be changed.”

He has won his last two races for the statehouse by less than 1,000 votes combined, and his race this year is expected to be close.