What do maggots, food shortages and political contributions have in common?

What do maggots, food shortages and political contributions have in common?

In the minds of the Ohio Democratic Party, there isa political connection between the state's decision to hire Aramark Correctional Services and the company political action committee's$25,000contribution to the Republican Governors Association in 2010.That year,the RGAspent $11 million on TV commercials forGov. John Kasich in his successfulrace to unseatincumbent Democrat Ted Strickland.

“After maggot infestations, inadequate staffing, widespread staffer misconduct, and inadequate food supplies in just the first few months of this contract, Ohio’s response to this food service contract apparently has been nothing more than a fine that amounts to one-tenth of one percent of the contract price. By continuing this contract, the administration is letting a vendor’s history of political donations and its ideological zeal for privatization cloud its judgment," said Brian Hester, deputy communications director for the ODP.

Aramark, a Philadelphia-based vendor, received a $110 million state contract to provide food service at all Ohio prisons.

Aramark wasfined $142,110 by the state inApril for a variety ofcontract violations. Since then, there have been reportsof maggotsin the food or serving equipment in at least four prisons and more than 100reports offood shortages. A state investigation is underway.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the unionrepresenting prison employees, is in the midst of lengthy grievance arbitration with the state over the Aramark contract.

The Ohio Republican Party fired back with both barrels.

"So was the $488,000 that the prison unions donated to Strickland and the Ohio Democratic Party their attempt to keep Aramark out?" asked Chris Schrimpf, GOP communications director. "Because Democrats bungled an $8 billion hole in the state budget, the Kasich administration was left with some tough choices -including either privatizing prison food service to help prisons operate more efficiently or being forced to shut them down due to overwhelming costs. If the same Democrats who bankrupted the state thought closing down prisons was the better option, then they should have voiced their support for that at the time. Otherwise, they should simply say thank you for cleaning up the mess they had made of things."