Ohio

Attorney General Overpaid for Luxury SUV, Investigation Shows

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Ohio Attorney General and former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R) billed taxpayers over $35,000 for an SUV that he could have purchased for thousands less according to a Media Trackers Ohio investigation of the expenditure.  WBNS-TV 10 previously reported DeWine’s taxpayer funded purchase of a Buick Enclave. According to the Attorney General’s office, the Enclave that was purchased was a 2010 model.

An estimate from Kelley’s Blue Book, the largest automobile valuation company in the United States, suggests DeWine was ripped off during the purchasing negotiations. A used 2010 Buick Enclave with all of the options and after-market additions DeWine purchased should have sold for at most $31,667 in the Columbus used car market.

DeWine purchased the used 2010 Enclave shortly after spending $19,000 in state funds to purchase a new 2011 Chevrolet Impala sports sedan.

Before DeWine took office in 2011, he drove a  2008 Chevy Impala.

In the WBNS-TV 10 interview with DeWine, the Attorney General defended his pricey purchase of the eight-seat SUV, saying he needed to spend almost $2,000 of taxpayer money to upgrade his ride with an after-market satellite audio/video system — because he “[spends] a lot of time in the car.”

DeWine, however, promised that this would be the last time he’d trade up on the taxpayer’s dime. “I’m going to drive that car as long as I am Attorney General,” DeWine said during the interview, “Whether that’s three more years, or however long that is.”

Buick advertises the Enclave as a luxury vehicle, but DeWine insists that the purchase would actually save taxpayers money in the long run. DeWine’s luxury vehicle includes heated leather seats, keyless “push-to-start” ignition, and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Records obtained by WBNS­-TV 10 showed that DeWine spent $35,659 on the car, options and upgrades included. As a result, DeWine overpaid for his “mobile office” by 13 percent when compared to the Kelley’s Blue Book recommended value — even assuming the upgrades were appropriate.

In November 2003, federal taxpayer advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste recognized then-U.S. Senator DeWine’s big-spending ways by awarding him the title of “Porker of the Month.”

CAGW describes the award as “a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.”

Ironically, in a March 2012 e-mail Ohio Republican Party consultant Brett Buerck sent to DeWine by mistake, Buerck claimed the Attorney General “still thinks he’s in the Senate.”

Attorney General DeWine’s office could not be reached for further comment on this story.

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