The ethics complaint against Shontel Brown was a cheap shot political tactic from Nina Turner’s dark money camp that should and must be dismissed

Turner shouldn't have dragged Shontel Brown's personal relationship with Mark Perkins into her race for the 11th Congressional District for her selfish political goals

CLEVELAND, OH – A journalist friend brought up Shontel Brown’s vote for $17 million worth of contracts to Mark Perkins’ McTech shortly after she was elected to the Cuyahoga County Council and thought her act was unethical.  I asked why.  The journalist said because she “dates” him. There was no story from that journalist.  Brown’s allowed to spend her life under our nation’s 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States with whomever she chooses.

When the story about Brown’s male companion surfaced from Nina Turner’s “dark money” camp it was seen by Clevelanders like me as old and already-resolved news. It was assumed that no one all of the Cuyahoga County government County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County President Pernell Jones oversaw had bothered to check and advise Brown to operate so that she didn’t violate any laws.

It was not a smart political “hit.” I wouldn’t have advised it since I know Nina’s husband had been working on a plan to feed the Turner family based on relationships he’d built with some of the “friends” of Brown’s his wife’s campaign people were smearing as criminals. That’s before she started trashing former First Lady, Secretary of State and United States Senator Hillary Clinton during her presidential run.

Shontel Brown is not a McTech partner. This campaign hit piece was a very bad, defamatory idea.

When I saw how the Ohio Ethics Commission complaint was used it smacked of cheap shot politics. It also reeked of the type of “hit” an out of town political advisor or one who doesn’t know Cleveland, Cuyahoga or Ohio’s governance would make.  The complaint was malicious and the filer was not a “good government” watchdog looking out for the residents of the 11th Congressional District.

It wasn’t filed in good faith.  It appears to have been filed without even a minimal review of public information and state and local laws that would have told the filer to leave the matter alone.  It’s defamatory.  It was filed to use as a political hit piece as evidenced by its leak to the media and campaign smears.  The person who signed it should be facing criminal charges for violating Section 2921.13 of the Ohio Revised Code.  Falsification.

(A) No person shall knowingly make a false statement, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when any of the following applies:  (1) The statement is made in any official proceeding.

Ohio’s ethics laws are found in Section 102 of Ohio’s Revised Code.  The chapter in pertinent part requires elected officials and certain classifications of appointed public officials to file an annual Financial Disclosure Statement with the Ohio Ethics Commission.  In her disclosure documents Brown has statutory duties to disclose all of her financial interests just like every other official.  The duties require her to disclose the money she owes and to whom if applicable.  She’s required to identify her business “partnerships.”  Section 102.02 of the state general law reads as follows:

“(2) The disclosure statement shall include all of the following:  (a) The name of the person filing the statement and each member of the person’s immediate family and all names under which the person or members of the person’s immediate family do business; (b)(i) Subject to divisions (A)(2)(b)(ii) and (iii) of this section and except as otherwise provided in section 102.022 of the Revised Code, identification of every source of income…”

From what I’ve been reading from the Turner camp the ethical violation is Brown’s vote on contracts that were awarded to an American Negro man she knows.  Campaign literature from the Democratic Action Committee PAC described Perkins as  Brown’s “partner.”  The political entity may have commissioned a homosexual to design the flyer because the word “partner” appears to be used in that context instead of its statutory context within the language of the state’s ethics laws.  There’s no evidence that Brown and Perkins are McTech “partners.”

Nina Turner lost touch with Cleveland when she was living in “Bernie World.”

When voters enacted a new charter to re-organize Cuyahoga County government three sections were added giving the county executive and the county council investigative authority over each other’s affairs as well creating an inspector general.  For added accountability the Cuyahoga County Charter includes a federal misprision of felony-like equivalent giving any official who receives information about misconduct the mandatory duty to report it.  It’s found in Article 12 and Section 12.04.

SECTION 12.04 REPORTING OF OFFERS TO INFLUENCE OFFICIAL ACTION. Any elected or appointed County officer who receives or who has specific and personal knowledge of any offer by any person of anything of value to be given to a County officer or employee for the purpose of influencing such officer or employee in the performance of such officer’s or employee’s official duties shall promptly report the matter to a law enforcement officer or agency believed by the reporting officer or employee to have jurisdiction or responsibility concerning the matter.  Such officer or employee shall fully cooperate in any investigation of and any resulting prosecution or action relating to the matter. [Effective January 1, 2010]

The story circulating from the Turner “dark money” camp about Brown is that she and  Perkins are partners.  Allegedly, Brown voted on $17 million in contracts that benefited her partner’s company like county officials did prior to her election.  Perkins has Italian American partners in addition to Brown.  Perkins then rewarded his female “partner” with $13,000 in campaign donations through their “friends.”  He was among the legally contributing donors contributing the legal limits to his partner’s campaign.  $13,000 is less than 1/10th of one percent.

Not only would that cut of $17 million make Brown a very cheap date.   It wouldn’t say very much about Brown’s importance in the partnership even though without her support her other partners wouldn’t have received the $17 million contract.  The argument is based on ignorantly defamatory insanity and it’s exactly the type of lie this state’s election laws prohibits candidates from using to smear each other.  I wouldn’t have advised it.

The use of the word “partner” seems more associated with its use in the homosexual community before the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for same sex “marriages.”  Just because Turner’s dark money camp described their relationship as a partnership doesn’t make it so.  It has to meet the legal and not the street definition for the term. To avoid being forced in court to prove Brown and Perkins were “partners” I damn sure would not have used it.

This McTech advertisement appeared in the Real Deal in 2016

I moderated two debates for Ward 1 council candidate and Brown Report publisher Kimberly Brown when Shontel Brown campaigned for the Cuyahoga Council in 2014.  At that time she was a member of Warrensville Heights city council.  Published reports say she’s been dating Perkins for 11 years.  Since 2010.  So she was dating Perkins before joining the Cuyahoga County council.

I didn’t ask Brown the “ethics” question about her male companion because I saw it as irrelevant.  I wanted to know if she’d reviewed the governing documents in her oath of office and intended to live by them.  I also wanted to know if she was going to be an advocate for American Negro owned companies.

It would be inconsistent with my pro-American Negro business consciousness to see Brown’s single vote supporting a contract to a family of American Negro contractors who’d already been receiving them as unethical.  It would have been unlawful for qualified American Negro owned construction company not to receive the $17 million in county contracts because of Brown’s presence on the council.  Brown would serve no purpose to greater Cleveland’s American Negro community if she did not advocate for statutorily-compliant American Negro contractors to receive county contracts; and encourage her colleagues on the county legislative authority to do so as well.

Perkins is the chief executive officer of McTech and founded the company in 1997.  That’s 13 years before he met Brown and I know the company competed and won federal, state and local contracts before she even thought about politics.  Brown is 46 and would have been 22 at the time Perkins founded his construction company.  I don’t recall her being on the political scene the year I was publishing Political Reporter.

Her Linked In page shows Brown as a marketing representative in 1997.  I’ve heard she had an interest or work in entertainment.  So have I.  What I’ve not ever heard is that Brown is a “partner” in McTech or has an “interest” in any of the Perkins family enterprises.  This is information the state’s ethics laws would have required her to report.  Not her personal relationships.

Perkins’ father, Frederick, is a former Master’s Degreed Cleveland Municipal School District history teacher who lost his sight at 27.  Instead of crying about his affliction he used his gargantuan determination to bring his brothers together to form a construction company, Seawright/FACE, with Mr. William Seawright.   It’s hard not to respect Mark’s father’s “vision” and determination based on his and the family’s success in the construction industry.  I don’t “know” Mr. Perkins but we’ve met several times.  Each time I’ve left feeling I have absolutely no excuse for not achieving what I want in life.

Seawright/FACE was founded in 1983 and is not new to Cuyahoga County government.  The partners were headquartered on Cedar Avenue as part of Cleveland’s “Black Wall Street” when our community was full of American Negro owned businesses up until the political and “building and housing code” extermination of the most successful ones.

Mr. Seawright, a successful “policy house” operator or “numbers man,” went through hell to break open the local construction industry to American Negroes along with Robert and George Thompson, Jr. of TomRob Developers.  Members of my family were in “the numbers” and so were the family members of many American Negro Clevelanders with roots over 100 years. My grandfather bought three trucks for his three sons to enter the mob controlled trucking business in 1952.  Competition for business in this Russian mafia influenced and infiltrated town is an ongoing war.

Mr. Seawright was indicted by the most virulent racist to hold the prosecutor’s office in Cuyahoga County modern history, John T. Corrigan, just because his company was the successful bidder on a city contract.  So the pattern has continued even until recently with federal indictments of American Negro contractors winning bids at Cleveland city hall.  That’s the sentiment the Turner camp played into with its dark money smear on the Perkins family.

FBI agents are even setting up and accusing second bidders of being criminals after they’ve received contracts when the first bidder dropped out.  Some of the “set up” investigations I see coming out of the federal prosecutor’s office in Northern Ohio stretches the relationship between the federal government and this town’s citizens are way beyond where the U.S. constitution, federal laws and regulations allow.

Turner hasn’t been here as she’s been living in Washington, D.C. and traveling across the nation building support for Sanders and his Our Revolution band of Communists trying to remarket themselves as Progressive Socialist Democrats.

So now as a “politician without a home” she’s stumbling around in Cleveland trying to inflict her will on the city’s voters to re-establish herself instead of sitting back and observing.  Turner’s own “dark money” campaign surrogates had no regard for the trail of evidence showing the Perkins’ family already had a relationship with Cuyahoga County under the former form of government before Brown.  Turner attacked the county’s new leadership and dragged the county into a wrong fight about the perception of the government they oversaw.

Nina Turner in 2009 jumped aboard then Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney William Mason’s county reform ship to eliminate the commissioners and to leave him and the county executive the only two elected administrative county officers.  The only other county elected offices would be the 62 judges.

The American Negro population in Cuyahoga County was more than one-third and within striking distance of the 37 percent demographic that got Carl Stokes elected mayor in 1969.  Peter Lawson Jones was serving on the board of commissioners and Lillian Greene was holding the office of county recorder.  Cuyahoga County Community College chief of police Clayton Harris was planning to seek the job of sheriff.

The American Negro voter was propelling our candidates to the higher elected countywide offices they had historically been striving to open.  Nina has never understood “why” she was hit with the “Aunt Jemima” label by attorney George Lawrence Forbes and publisher Don King at the Call & Post.  She was seen as single-handedly destroying years of work.  Nina cried about the characterization without examining her own acts that led to it.

I was serving as East Cleveland’s mayor and very aggressively opposed to Mason’s plan.  I figured if Mason was creating an all-powerful prosecuting attorney the voters should also elect an finance a public defender.  Retired Congressman Louis Stokes was on the reform and Councilman Zack Reed attended all the meetings.  All.  Frank Jackson was nowhere to be found.

Zack was in the meeting when I raised the issue of electing a public defender and heard Mr. Stokes say he liked it; and intended to include it in the proposed new charter.  Mason removed it.  Cuyahoga County voters never knew it was included and Turner didn’t say a word when he voiced his opposition.  State Representative Sandra Williams spoke up for an elected public defender as a state representative.  When the meeting was over I took a copy of the charter and went over it with WKYC reporter Tom Beres.  Nina kept her mouth shut about the flaws and just kept on selling.

At a July 19, 2021 news conference Cuyahoga County council President Pernel Jones, Jr. made the observation that Cuyahoga County government is too open and investigated to be as corrupt as campaign commercials promoting Nina Turner’s congressional campaign portrayed it. Turner backed the county reform effort in 2009 and 2010 and hasn’t said a word about corruption since supporting it. If the reform effort she supported was hurting the people of Cuyahoga County she should have spoken up about it before her campaign for congress.

I was invited to speak in opposition to the charter change with officials who were for it at the City Club Dan Moulthrope had only recently arrived in the city from somewhere in New Jersey to manage.  His horrible ego-driven moderation, coupled with his zero intricate prior knowledge of the history of the city’s issues and people in power, dumbed down what should have been a higher level conversation.  The Plain Dealer’s publisher, Terrence Egger, invested $15,000 of his personal funds to support Mason’s petition drive and drowned out the criticism.

After promoting the charter change Turner didn’t stay around to see if it was working.  So her voice on local issues since joining with Sanders’ “quest for president” team has been as silent as she was in the room when she could have opened it to fight for an elected public defender.

I’ll add a personal note that it was shortly after my City Club appearance with officials for and against the charter change that Peter Lawson Jones’ employee, Gary Norton, released pictures stolen from my personal computer to WKYC reporter Tom Meyer and others.  The Call & Post then carpet bombed Turner with the “Aunt Jemima” strike.

Both our voices in the “reform” discussion were neutralized.  The difference is after losing the campaign for mayor and closing my restaurant in Warren, I returned and started a newsletter and website (ClevelandChallenger.com) that covered both Mason and newly-elected county executive Ed Fitzgerald.  I pressured racist-azzed Fitzgerald to appoint Mark Parks and Andrea Rocco after editorially-exposing his all Caucasian male Irish supremacist hiring practices at the top in a newsletter.  Nina, again, was as silent as she was in the room.  What she did do was join the statewide Democratic Party’s ticket as a candidate for Secretary of State as a “Black vote” attractor to help Fitzgerald and herself.

I’ve reported on the county’s lowered bond ratings, the deaths in the jail, the stolen homes because of criminally derelict foreclosure workers; and I’ve ripped the judges for taking office without filing campaign finance reports.  I’m a critic of the management and board at the board of elections and their chronic “misconduct” in office in the elections department under Brent Lawler.  A review of EJBNEWS will show stories about jail conditions and uncertified law enforcement officers.  Again.  Nina’s voice has not been heard.

The history is important because it underscores the response Turner got from Cuyahoga County Council President Jones and the clergy.  Nina hasn’t been here and her campaign of out-of-town carpetbaggers showed up to destroy relationships others had built and plans we’d all been working on in her absence.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.

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