Youngstown City Prosecutor Jay Macejko insists he has no ties whatsoever to members of the Cafaro family. If what he says stands up to scrutiny, that’s a good thing.
On the other hand, Macejko, who is challenging Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains for the Democratic Party nomination, claims that he was not talking about alcohol when he used the word “sober” to describe how he would handle the job of county prosecutor differently than the incumbent
In an interview with WFMJ-Channel 21 Reporter Glenn Stevens, in reaction to last Sunday’s column that focused on his comments, Macejko said:
“When the statement was made at the FOP candidates forum I was talking about working hard and clearly seeing your way to justice. I don’t know why people took it the way they did, but they did and since then it certainly has been used in an inflammatory manner.”
Macejko, who had worked for Gains as an assistant county prosecutor, was clearly trying to worm his way out of a politically explosive situation. His tortured explanation for his use of the word “sober” is a bad thing.
He ignored one of the chief rules of politics: When you misspeak, don’t insult the intelligence of the voters by trying to put a spin on the comment. Admit you said something stupid, apologize, and get back on track.
Now for the ugly.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras, whose priority is the election of the party’s endorsed candidates, has hurt his credibility in his defense of Macejko.
In the WFMJ story, Stevens reported that “Betras says he did call Macejko after the speech — and was satisfied with his explanation.”
Betras is rewriting history. The night that Macejko made the statement at a candidates forum sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police, Betras called this writer to report what had taken place.
The event occurred several weeks before the endorsement meeting of the Democratic Party committeemen and women, which meant that Gains, as the incumbent officeholder, had the chairman’s support. (Now, however, Betras is shilling for Macejko because he won the endorsement over Gains.)
When this writer received the call from the party chairman, it was clear that Macejko’s use of the word “sober” was a point of contention. Not once did Betras parse the word the way the city prosecutor has done.
Yet, the chairman said he had a conversation after the speech and was satisfied with the explanation.
As for Macejko’s response to questions posed by this writer regarding his relationship, if any, with the Cafaro family, voters can be reassured.
Here are the questions raised in a column last July and the answers:
Q: Have you had any social or business dealings with Anthony, John J. and/or Flora Cafaro, or with any other executives of the Cafaro Co.? If so, what was the nature of the dealings?
A: The answer is no. I have had no dealings, social or business, and, in fact, have no relationship with any of the above-named individuals or with any other executives of the Cafaro Co.
Q: Given that the FBI and U.S Attorney’s Office in Cleveland have 2,000 hours of tapes from the surveillance, can you state unequivocally that your name will not appear in any related list? If it turns out that you were recorded in conversations or appear on videotape with any of the Cafaros or company executives, will you withdraw from the race next year and resign your position as city prosecutor?
A: I can unequivocally state that I will not appear in any conversations or any other type of personal or private interactions with the above-named individuals or any executives of the company. My answer renders the second part of the question moot.
No campaign donations
Macejko also sent a letter to Betras instructing him not to accept campaign donations from the Cafaro family for use in his campaign.
The party chairman decided it was impractical to accept money from the Cafaros and keep it from being used in Macejko’s campaign. He, therefore, announced that no money from the family would be accepted.
Why focus on Anthony, John J. and Flora? Because four years ago, they contributed $40,000 each to Gains’ opponent, Atty. Martin Yavorcik, in an attempt to defeat the prosecutor.