Like any other lobbyist, Todd Martindale will give you chapter and verse about the bill he's been lobbying hardest against lately.
"It's trying to buy us out of debt," he says of Ohio Senate bill No. 530, which seeks to cut the state's budget deficit by raising the state income tax 50 percent and cutting spending. Despite his best efforts, though, the bill was passed by the Ohio Senate last week. Gov. James A. Rhodes "said he's going to sign it," Martindale says bitterly. "He'll sign anything."
Like any other lobbyist, Martindale, undaunted, will tell you about his next big project.
"We're leaving the businesses out in the cold," says Martindale, who is pushing to cut business taxes in Ohio. "If we make business tax cuts like the Sun Belt is, we can hopefully make this a comfortable place for the businesses to come."
Unlike any other lobbyist, Todd Martindale is 11 years old.
Todd charges around the statehouse in a three-piece suit and freckles, delivering position papers and buttonholing--well, coat-tailing--legislators. The lawmakers don't intimidate him much, he says, but he did have one unfortunate experience when he tried to ask state Sen. Thomas A. Van Meter, a tall Republican from Ashland who is president pro tem of the senate, about bill No. 530.
"I was about to ask him and I saw this huge, 6-foot-5 man," Todd recalls. "I'm only four feet tall. I looked up and saw Bigfoot or something. So I just asked him, 'How's your day?' "
Todd was registered as a lobbyist at the Ohio statehouse earlier this month, joining the state's 1,460 other registered lobbyists. He is certainly the youngest.
"Ohio's law doesn't have any restrictions on age," says Caroline Towner, the state legislative agent registration officer. Although the state does not require lobbyists to register, "He was very insistent on being a registered lobbyist," Towner says. "I think he thinks it gives him more clout with the senators."
Todd, who has been haunting the statehouse for two years, has had more than his share of notoriety recently. Appearing at a Rhodes press conference last week, he was invited in front of the microphones by the governor, who wryly observed that Todd had been asking better questions than any of the reporters in attendance. After their joint press conference, Rhodes invited Todd into his office for a chat and gave him an Ohio lapel pin.
"He offered state fair tickets," Todd says. "But I didn't take them. That would hurt my political image."
He's been polishing his image since the encounter with Rhodes, quickly becoming a favorite subject for reporters covering the capital. "Ever since I got in to see the governor, I've had a political future," he says.
Todd's first lobbying experience came when he was five and tried to persuade his parents to vote for Gerald R. Ford over Jimmy Carter. An interest in history and government led him to the statehouse.
Todd gets to the statehouse, where his stepfather is a custodian, as often as he can.
As you might expect from a lad who will enter the sixth grade at Columbus' Franklin Middle School in the fall, he has a particular affinity for education issues. "I'm really a lobbyist for no cuts in education," he says. "I always think of education cuts as Band-Aids for the present, because you're cutting the future."
Todd is thinking about running for student council at Franklin, "but I'm playing for the big time, too."
The big time?
"Hopefully I can become president, if they don't drop the bomb."
"I think I can do a better job than Ronald Reagan. And you can tell him I said that."