Jeffry Armbruster: A Player in Ohio’s Tammany Hall

June 5th, 2007 by

Jeffry Armbruster runs 22 convenience stores and gas stations in Ohio. Like many business owners, he thinks he pays too much for workers compensation coverage. But unlike most business owners, as a state senator in his scandal-ridden state, he was in a position to do something about it. He initiated some informal talks with the folks at the Bureau of Workers Compensation and walked away with an 88 percent rate reduction. I’m sure his being the vice chair of a committee that dealt with the bureau’s legislative needs had nothing to do with the favorable treatment. He was simply reaping the just rewards of an awesome safety program! Now the former senator (term limits, not voter nausea) is facing a conflict-of-interest investigation and possible criminal charges. When it comes to conflicts of interest, our man Armbruster is a master.
A google search reveals that back in 2002 he tried to do a favor for Gino Zomparelli, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Authority. Armbruster tried to raise the floor for no-bid contracts to $50,000 (a 500 percent increase). Unfortunately for Zomparelli, some turnpike workers dropped a dime and an investigation followed – one that revealed that Gino and his staff were already raking in gifts from contractors, including football and baseball tickets, dining and entertainment. All these nice goodies even with very low limits for no-bid contracts in effect. Gino and a bunch of other authority administrators were forced to resign.
Armbruster was a member of a committee overseeing the turnpike authority when he filed the bill. Rather than apologizing for what appears to be a blatant disregard for his legislative role, Armbruster said that he was merely serving as “a bridge between the legislature and the commission.” Some bridge!
In 2004 the ethically challenged senator had to file for bankruptcy. His gasoline supplier stopped deliveries when he fell behind to the tune of $198,722. He also owed money to the state on his 19 lottery terminals. After some hasty negotiations, Shell resumed deliveries and the state lottery commission allowed him to resume ticket sales (cutting the senator a break – now that’s a shocker!). By the way, Armbruster sits on the board of the national convenience store operators association. He’s also on their legislation subcommittee. His type of experience is priceless! (Well, not exactly lacking a price…)
I suspect that the road ahead for the former senator is full of concrete and steel: no, he won’t be building roads or adding to his convenience store empire. He’ll be joining a number of his Ohio colleagues in the slammer (most notably the infamous coin dealer Tommy Noe), where he’ll have plenty of time to contemplate the sudden demise of Ohio’s quid pro quo politics. And we all thought corruption on this scale disappeared with Tammany Hall