Ben Konop

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Benjamin Zachary Konop
Ben Konop 2009.jpg
Lucas County Commissioner, Ohio
In office
2007–2011
Preceded by Maggie Thurber
Personal details
Born (1976-03-01)March 1, 1976
Sylvania, Ohio
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Michigan (J.D.), Emory University (B.A.)

Benjamin Zachary Konop (born March 1, 1976)[1] is an Enforcement Attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.. He also was a law professor and attorney in private practice.[2] Formerly, he served as Lucas County Commissioner from 2007-2010. He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Toledo, Ohio in 2009. During the campaign a heckler booed him and called him a liar for going back on his pledge to remain in his county commissioner seat until his full term was up. A video of the booing incident went viral on YouTube and was even spoofed on Comedy Central's South Park.[3] Konop’s interview about his political career and the incident was part of The Huffington Post’s 2017 Webby nominated podcast series “Candidate Confessional” with Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis.[3]

Konop also ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic Party candidate in Ohio's 4th congressional distric for the United States House of Representatives in 2004.

Early life[edit]

Konop was raised in Lucas County. He attended Whiteford Elementary School and Ottawa Hills High School, where he played varsity basketball and baseball.[4] Konop's father, Alan Sanford Konop, who was born in Michigan is a Toledo lawyer. His mother, Barbara Jane (Welch) Konop, was born in Ohio.

Konop received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. At Emory he played basketball for his school and worked at the Washington DC office of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.[5] In 2000, Konop earned his law degree from University of Michigan and afterwards practiced law at Fullbright & Jaworski, LLP, where he represented Fortune 500 companies.[5] He also assisted in the launch of a mentoring program for at-risk junior high school students.[5]

Ohio's 4th congressional district candidate[edit]

In 2004, Democrat Konop ran against the incumbent Republican U. S. Representative Mike Oxley, of the 4th congressional district of Ohio. Oxley had been a congressman since 1981. Though Oxley won, the margin of victory was 48,037 votes; his smallest since 1990. Konop garnered 41.4% of the votes, highest total ever by an opponent of Oxley, who spent ten times more than Konop in the campaign. He became the first federal candidate of the Democratic Party to win Allen County since 1932.[5] During the debates, Oxley focused on his influence and Konop’s inexperience while Konop claimed his opponent abandoned his district and took undue credit for the Sarbanes–Oxley Act.[6] Following the campaign, Konop served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Toledo. Konop also taught Political Science at Blufton University.[5]

Lucas County Commissioner[edit]

In 2006, Konop campaigned successfully for the Lucas County Commissioner from 2007-2011, soundly defeating George Sarantou and promising to bring fresh perspectives to the county government.[7] Konop won the election by nearly 50,000 votes over Sarantou, 89,928 to 49,768.[8]

As Commissioner, Konop instituted a countywide microchip scanning program for dogs to help return lost pets to their owners. About 8,000 dogs were scanned for microchips.[9] Konop also successfully pushed for the resignation of Lucas County Dog Warden due, in large part, to the high kill rate for dogs at the Lucas County Dog Pound.[10] Under mounting pressure, the Dog Warden retired in January 2010.[11] Since the Dog Warden’s exit, there have been 407 fewer dogs killed than in 2009 and 939 fewer than in 2008.[12] In November 2009, Konop made a successful motion to adopt a moratorium that banned the Dog Warden from killing puppies, including Pit Bull puppies, at least through 3 months of age. Konop was featured in a documentary, “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent” for his work advocating for animal rights.[13]

During his time in office, he also helped to eliminate the use of county no-bid contracts by introducing a resolution that ended the practice of awarding contracts worth more than $5,000 for professional services without a formal bid process.[14] Konop also authored a resolution for greater transparency of politicians’ campaign donors, passed a policy against nepotism in county hiring, and led a community effort to preserve the Children's Wonderland exhibit.[15]

In 2009, Konop objected to the lack of economic and racial diversity on the Lucas County Planning Commission and gave up his own position on the board to Jim Snodgrass, Jr, an African American factory worker at Jeep[16]

In spring of 2009, Konop revealed his proposal for a $70 million publicly funded scholarship program aimed to increase the number of college-educated county residents without raising taxes. His proposal was rejected by the other two commissioners and Konop cited this failure as his greatest regret during his service.[7]

Mayor of Toledo candidate[edit]

In 2009, while still serving as the Lucas County Commissioner, Konop began his campaign for the office of mayor of Toledo. Opponents raised doubts about Konop’s integrity, since in 2006 he pledged to complete the four-year term as commissioner.[17] In defense, Konop cited his greater obligation to bring changes urgently needed in Toledo, which has seen higher unemployment, increase in foreclosure problems, more possibility of police layoffs, and a larger deficit since 2006.[18]

Konop's campaign for mayor received unflattering local and national attention thanks to a YouTube video in which he is repeatedly heckled during a news conference. Konop chose Old West End for the location, at the corner of Winthrop Street and Parkwood Avenue, where his mother grew up.[18] When the filming began, a man who lived nearby named Maxwell Austin intentionally mispronounced Konop’s name, labeled him a liar, and booed him.[18] Konop eventually met with Austin to address their common concerns about the city.[18] Konop later participated in a follow-up video intending to spoof the heckler episode which brought him further negative coverage. The events harmed his campaign, and out of the six candidates for mayor, Konop finished in fifth place. [7] Konop served the remainder of his term as the Commissioner.[7]

Toledo Blade columnist[edit]

Later, Konop was employed as a columnist for the Toledo Blade where he covered the Detroit Tigers,[19] Bob Dylan’s first ever concerts in China and Vietnam,[20] and the first 2011 Republican Presidential debate in New Hampshire.[21]

Enforcement attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)[edit]

Since 2011, Konop has served as an Enforcement Attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). At the CFPB, Konop served as lead counsel on CFPB vs. Bridgepoint, in which the CFPB took action against Bridgepoint Education, Inc., a for-profit college chain for “deceiving students into taking out private student loans that cost more than advertised.”[22] Bridgepoint paid a penalty of $8 million to the CFPB and forgave and refunded loans totaling $23.5 million. In addition, Konop is lead counsel on CFPB vs. RD Legal in which the CFPB and the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against RD for allegedly scamming 9/11 Ground Zero first responders and National Football League concussion victims out of money intended to cover their medical costs.[23] Konop was also lead attorney in CFPB vs. Top Notch in which the CFPB alleged that the defendants offered deceptive loans to injured NFL veterans, victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and 9/11 first responders.[24] In addition, Konop was lead counsel on CFPB v. Sancho[25] and worked on CFPB vs. Corinthian Colleges[26] and CFPB vs. Genuine Title.[27]

Executive Vice President, National Treasury Employee Union at the CFPB (Chapter 335)[edit]

In 2012, Konop helped found a chapter of the National Treasury Employee Union at the CFPB and in 2013 he was elected Executive Vice President of the chapter and served on the bargaining committee that negotiated the CFPB’s first collective bargaining agreement.[28] In 2014, Konop helped lead the union's efforts to combat race, gender and age bias within the CFPB. This work resulted in a suspension and reorganization of the performance management review system and $5.5 million in back pay being awarded to employees. On May 21, the House Financial Services Committee on Oversight conducted a congressional hearing on issues related to discrimination at the CFPB. Konop was subpoenaed by the committee as a witness and testified before Congress, highlighting his union members' concerns regarding pay equity and disparate impact affecting minorities, women, and employees over 40.[29][30]

In his testimony, Konop specifically cited 2012 Performance Management Ratings (PMR) distribution between management and labor that revealed the disadvantage the bargaining unit employees faced. When the same problems resurfaced in the 2013 PMR, the chapter requested a detailed PMR breakdown based on categories of race, age, and bargaining unit status. The unfavorable results led to grievances, bargaining, and eventual admittance of systemic issues with the PMR.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Birth Record of Benjamin Zachary Konop". Mooseroots.com. Retrieved 6 March 2017. 
  2. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-konop-53294136
  3. ^ a b Stein, Sam; Cherkis, Jason (22 February 2016). "How The Victim Of One Of History's Worst Political Hecklings Survived The Internet" – via Huff Post. 
  4. ^ "Summer as congressional page ignited Konop's political passion". August 17, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Our Campaigns - Candidate - Ben Konop". www.ourcampaigns.com. 
  6. ^ "Oxley, Konop trade jabs in their final debate". 28 October 2004. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop says he won't run for 2nd term". 15 February 2010. 
  8. ^ http://co.lucas.oh.us/DocumentCenter/View/2217
  9. ^ "Lucas County to scan lost dogs for microchip". March 10, 2007.
  10. ^ "Ben Konop's statement on Lucas County Dog Warden's reserve fund". 
  11. ^ "'Pit-bull' pup freed from Lucas County Pound". December 15, 2009.
  12. ^ "Local - Toledo Blade". www.toledoblade.com. 
  13. ^ "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent". 9 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Konop, Moody spar on origins of ideas". 10 June 2009. 
  15. ^ "Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop says he won't run for 2nd term". 15 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "Konop quits planning board". 18 March 2009. 
  17. ^ Daileda, Colin. "The Washington Post wants you to watch people scream at politicians". 
  18. ^ a b c d "Boos at Konop event take on cult status with YouTube hits". 11 August 2009. 
  19. ^ "Kaline symbol of Detroit's greatest period". 24 March 2011. 
  20. ^ "East meets West via Dylan". 8 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "Republicans' summit lacked a real-world connection". 14 May 2011. 
  22. ^ "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Action Against Bridgepoint Education, Inc. for Illegal Student Lending Practices - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". 
  23. ^ "CFPB and New York Attorney General Sue RD Legal for Scamming 9/11 Heroes Out of Millions of Dollars in Compensation Funds - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". 
  24. ^ "CFPB Takes Action Against Top Notch Funding for Lying in Loan Offers to NFL Players, Deepwater Horizon Victims, and 9/11 First Responders - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". 
  25. ^ "CFPB Takes Action Against Lead Aggregators for Online Trafficking of Personal Information - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". 
  26. ^ "CFPB Sues For-Profit Corinthian Colleges for Predatory Lending Scheme - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". 
  27. ^ "CFPB and State of Maryland Take Action Against "Pay-To-Play" Mortgage Kickback Scheme - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau". 
  28. ^ http://financialservices.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hhrg-113-ba09-wstate-bkonop-20140521.pdf
  29. ^ Dispatch, Jessica Wehrman, The Columbus. "Union exec Ben Konop says discrimination issues improving at Cordray's agency". 
  30. ^ "More must be done to fix discrimination at Richard Cordray's federal agency, union representative tells Congress". 
  31. ^ https://financialservices.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hhrg-113-ba09-wstate-bkonop-20140521.pdf

External links[edit]