Canton Repository

September 12, 2004

Regula donors return the favor

Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON  As chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Ralph Regula has steered millions of federal dollars to companies and organizations. Many of the beneficiaries have steered tens of thousands of dollars toward his effort to become chairman of the full Appropriations Committee next year.

Regula's leadership political action committee, formed last year to raise funds for fellow Republicans, has received $39,500 from the Timken Co., its executives or Timken family members in the past year.

The Canton-based maker of bearings and steel has landed more than $10 million in federal contracts to develop specialized bearings and other components for the military, as well as for energy-saving manufacturing methods.

The Timken family traditionally supports Republicans.

Company spokesman Jason Saragian denied the company's PAC donation to Regula came in return for federal grants to the company.

But Timken supports Regula's bid for appropriations chairman. The federal spending Regula would direct to Ohio as appropriations chair "would improve the overall economy" in the state, Saragian said.

Regula created the PAC last year to boost his chances of being appointed appropriations chairman.

Individuals associated with area hospitals and colleges that got federal money have donated more than $18,000 to the PAC.

Nearly all insist there is no connection between their contributions and federal assistance Regula secured. They support Regula not because of the favors he did for them, but because they admire his work, they said.

John McGrath, former president of Stark State College of Technology, wrote a $5,000 check to Regula's PAC and acknowledged, "We felt it was a worthwhile contribution to make because of all the things he's done for us here at the college."

Stark State said Regula has brought almost $4 million to the college for facilities, programs and technology. He also helped establish the college when he was in the state Legislature.

McGrath couldn't remember who told him Regula was raising money.

"The indication was that Ralph Regula needed some help, and we felt that since he has helped us, it was my obligation as an individual to help him."

Aultman Hospital got more than $1 million in earmarks.

And in the last year, Regula's PAC got more than $5,000 in contributions from more than a dozen administrators and others at the hospital, including $1,000 from Aultman President Edward J. Roth III.

Roth said his contribution had nothing to do with the federal funds. And he said he doesn't expect the donations from hospital staff to benefit Aultman in any way, even though the hospital is seeking more federal money to establish a new breast cancer care center.

"I've supported Congressman Regula in the past," he said. "I grew up with his kids right down the street from where I lived. He's a very fair man, and I think he really has the needs and feelings and thoughts of the people he represents in his heart."

Walsh University in North Canton credits Regula with helping it become established. The congressman has steered about $2 million in federal funds to the university in the past three years, Walsh President Richard Jusseaume said.

Jusseaume donated $2,500 to Regula's PAC. Describing himself as an "old family friend" of the congressman, Jusseaume said he has contributed to Regula, a "œfriend of education," in the past.

He's "an honest politician who tells the truth, who has integrity, who's always available if you need help," Jusseaume said.

He also said he knows next to nothing about Regula's bid for appropriations chair, and that his contribution had nothing to do with grants the university received.

"I contributed to this man because I happen to believe in this man," he said. "Other than that, I don't have an agenda."