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« Stirfry

Talk about political chutzpah

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Published April 11, 2010

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Just days after Mark Hanni sent a letter to Mahoning County Democratic Party precinct committeemen and women accusing Chairman David Betras of being in the pocket of the wealthy, the kingmaker-wannabe hopped on a private jet and flew to Florida. There, he boarded a private yacht for a relaxing cruise.

Hanni’s traveling companions, according to a friend who was told of trip by the son of the late party Chairman Don L. Hanni Jr., was Flora Cafaro, daughter of the late shopping center magnate William Cafaro, and Anthony Saadey, an employee of the board of elections now on worker’s compensation disability.

Hanni’s joining friends on vacation would not have become an issue had it not been for the letter that he wrote to the precinct committeemen and women. In it, he denies that he is seeking the party chairmanship, but makes clear that he has targeted Betras for defeat.

Here’s what the letter says, in part:

“We watched ‘The David Betras’ style of politics in his role with the now infamous Mark (sic) Dann campaign. The tales of abuse of taxpayer dollars with the Dann regime are now legendary. Betras has continued the ‘Golden Checkbook’ philosophy into his tenure as party Chairman — as evidenced by the exclusive $1,000/ plate lobster extravaganza. How many working families were able to attend that?”

Betras has said that Hanni’s opposition to him would disappear if he put him on the board of elections. But the chairman has been adamant from the outset that he will not make any deals. He is taking the challenge seriously.

Hanni’s credibility is certainly under attack by Betras.

The question that he posed in his letter is now being turned on him: How many working families can hop on a private jet and then board a private yacht — with a very wealthy person?


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