Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dimora "attacking my integrity," says Zanotti

How does Martin Zanotti feel about making it onto Jimmy Dimora's enemies list?

"Why he brings me into his conspiracy theory is beyond me," Zanotti said yesterday. "The only reason I can assume Jimmy is doing this is because he was trying to get at county reform by attacking my integrity."

I called Zanotti for two reasons. One was to get an update on the petition drive for a new county charter. The other was to see how the Parma Heights mayor would respond to Dimora's recent accusations against him.

Zanotti is pushing for a new county government, and he's dissed Dimora while doing it. So Dimora lashed out at Zanotti during his angry comments last Thursday and this Monday. Dimora, whose April 2008 Las Vegas trip with J. Kevin Kelley is a subject of the federal criminal case against Kelley, prodded the media to look into whether Zanotti had gambled with Kelley as well.

"Marty Zanotti admitted to one trip, to Las Vegas or Detroit, he’s not sure which, with Kevin Kelley," Dimora said at last week's commissioner's meeting. "I think if pressed, if the media cares about that, it would be more than one trip. It could be many trips over the years, along with other Republicans, along in the car ride."

I asked Zanotti if that was true. "I have gone to Detroit on my own with a group of guys a couple times," he said. "One time, a few years ago, Kevin Kelley went with us to Detroit."

Zanotti later said Kelley (the former president of the Parma school board) might have joined him in Detroit "once or twice." He said he thinks Kelley came to Detroit to meet him and his friends from Johnson's Island, where Kelley had a second home.

"I wonder what those conversations were like?" Dimora asked Thursday. "I wonder if there were gaming chips exchanged? I wonder who paid for the meals?"

So I asked Zanotti: Did anyone other than you pay for your trip, meals, or gaming chips? "Not in a million years," Zanotti replied. He said he didn't make any deals about public business with Kelley during the trip, and that none of the others he traveled with were public officials.

At his Monday press conference, Dimora accused Zanotti of joining with former state Republican chairman Bob Bennett and current county Republican chair Rob Frost on the county reform effort.

"I've met Rob Frost one time for 30 seconds," Zanotti responded. "I wouldn’t know Bob Bennett if walked up to me and hit me with a two-by-four."

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