Husted Silent on Staffer Scandal

Former SB 5 Mayor Accused of Using City Computer for Campaign, Porn 

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, the Akron Beacon Journal reported that former Cuyahoga County Falls Mayor Don Robart is under investigation for having campaign-related files and “mountains” of pornography on his city government computer when he left office.  Presently, Robart is employed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.  In response to the investigation of Husted’s staffer, Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester issued the following statement:

“As the chief election official in the State of Ohio, it is irresponsible for Jon Husted to continue to have someone who is being accused of using official resources for campaign work and otherwise abuse official resources. Husted’s silence on this investigation is telling.”

BACKGROUND

Former Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart hired by Secretary of State’s Office.  As of January 2014, Don Robart has been employed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to serve as a regional liaison and eight county Board of Elections.  [Source: Cuyahoga Falls News-Press (2/23/2014), “Former Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart is Now Working for Ohio Secretary of State.”]

Robarts defeat in 2013 was widely seen as a result of his support of Governor Kasich’s controversial attack on middle-class workers in SB 5.  Robarts had been the seven-term mayor of Cuyahoga Falls when voters decided not to re-elect him and elect Democratic Don Walters instead.  Robarts support of SB 5 was seen as factor in his defeat, including by Robarts himself.  [Source: WKSU (11/7/2013, “A seven-term mayor loses, thanks to SB 5, the tea party and a shopping center.”]

After he left office, his city computer contained numerous campaign-related files and “mountains of porn.”  A search of Robarts’ city computer uncovered “spreadsheets of voter names and party affiliations and the location of campaign signs” and what a secretary of the office described as “mountains of porn” with folders titled “Big Daddys Girl”and ““The Melons Are Ready.” [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (4/16/2014), “Cuyahoga Falls investigating discovery of porn, campaign files on former mayor’s work computer.”]

PPP Poll Shows Ohio Governor’s Race A Dead Heat

COLUMBUS –Today, Public Policy Polling, one of the most proven pollsters in America, released a poll showing gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and Governor John Kasich tied at 44%, and Senator Nina Turner leading her opponent, Secretary of State Jon Husted 45% to 44%.

“It’s no coincidence that John Kasich’s campaign decided to go on the air yesterday—they are seeing the same results we’re seeing.  Governor Kasich has had weeks of horrible media attention on everything from his attacks on voting rights, his discriminatory views on marriage equality, and his tax shift onto the middle class.  This race is a dead heat, and Ohioans know that John Kasich doesn’t share our values, and his policies aren’t working for Ohio families,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.

You can find the polling on the race for governor here.

You can find the results on the Secretary of State’s race here.

Ohio Democratic Party Statement on Federal Judge’s Ruling on Ohio’s Ban on Marriage Equality

Court rules that Ohio can no longer deny recognition of marriages from marriage equality states

COLUMBUS – Today, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black issued his ruling in Henry v. Himes, U.S. Dist. Ct. (S. Dist. Of Ohio) Case No. 1:14-cv-129, in which he ruled that Ohio’s constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other States was unconstitutional.[1]

In responding to arguments raised by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Judge Black observed “given that all practicing attorneys, as well as the vast majority of all citizens in this country, are fully aware that unconstitutional laws cannot stand, even when passed by popular vote, Defendant’s repeated appeal to the purportedly sacred nature of the will of Ohio voters is particularly specious.”

In response, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling by Judge Black is not only a small, but important, milestone in the fight for marriage equality, but a reminder that our State constitution was created to protect the rights of Ohio families, not deny them.  Governor Kasich has a long history of opposing same-sex marriage, and it is far past time for him and Attorney General Mike DeWine to stop their crusade on Ohio families who deserve equal and fair treatment in our state.”


[1] The Order was stayed immediately pending further briefing on the parties and appeals.

President Bill Clinton to Headline Ohio Democratic Party State Dinner

COLUMBUS –Today, Ohio Democratic Party officials announced the 2014 State Dinner will be headlined by President Bill Clinton. The annual dinner will be held in Columbus on Friday, June 13th, 2014.

“We are thrilled to welcome back to Ohio President Clinton, a life-long fighter for working families and one of the greatest leaders of our time,” said Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chair. “Just like President Obama, President Clinton won the state of Ohio twice, and recognizes the importance of Democrats’ success here in 2014.”

“President Clinton has always been a dedicated champion of the middle class, and we can’t wait for him to join us in Ohio again as we work to elect our statewide candidates and true defenders of working families.”

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Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, Chairman
340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Yost Threatens to Abuse His Office to Advance Republican Agenda

Yost is more interested in being partisan attack dog than State Auditor

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, Republican State Auditor Dave Yost threatened to go after public officials, personally, if they authorize mailing absentee ballot applications outside of the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.  In response, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Yost has long demonstrated that he’s more interested in being a partisan attack dog than State Auditor.  After dismissing millions of unsupported spending by Governor Kasich’s pet program, Yost now wants to treat providing absentee ballot applications to voters as a crime and waste of tax dollars.  Ohio deserves an Auditor, not the Ohio GOP’s sideshow act.  Ohio’s Attorney General should end Yost’s partisan grandstanding by saying he will play no role in it.”

Background

Yost was a “top Romney surrogate” in 2012.  In press accounts of Dave Yost’s speech at a Romney rally in which he questioned whether the President deserved credit for Osama bin Laden’s death, Yost was described as a “top Romney surrogate.”  [Cleveland Plain Dealer (May 7, 2012), “Mitt Romney holds town hall forum in Euclid, where supporter accuses Obama of treason”]

Yost was considered a possible “self-designated” “Republican attack leader” in 2012.  One reporter in reporting on Yost’s attacks on the President as Commander-in-Chief asked: Could it be Yost, a first-term statewide Republican officeholder, former Delaware County prosecutor and ex-journalist, is the designated Republican attack leader on the president? Perhaps self-designated?” [Source: Columbus Dispatch Daily Briefing Blog (May 10, 2012), “Dave Yost: New GOP attack dog?”]

Yost Leads “We Love Romney” Chant at Rally – According to the Dayton Daily News “State Auditor of Ohio, Dave Yost leads a “We love Romney” chant at a rally outside of the Dayton International Airport Expo Center.” [Dayton Daily News, September 2012.]

Yost’s Goal in 2010 in Running for Auditor: To Make Democrats Unhappy. Responding to questions in the Delaware Gazette about his decision to switch races to appease the Republican Party, Yost said, “I am not interested in making the party happy. However, I am particularly interested in making the Democratic Party unhappy.” [Delaware Gazette, 1/26/10]

Yost Compares Obama to Ronald McDonald. According to the Columbus Dispatch “During Romney’s visit yesterday to a factory in suburban Cleveland, state Auditor Dave Yost likened the president to Ronald McDonald, and an unidentified Romney supporter said into a microphone that Obama should be ‘tried for treason.’ […]Romney was introduced to the crowd of about 800 by Yost, who said, ‘I’ve heard all this stuff over the last couple weeks about the president claiming credit for killing Osama bin Laden.’ ‘It strikes me as a little weird. That’s like giving Ronald McDonald credit for the Big Mac you had for lunch,’ Yost said. ‘Everybody knows it’s really the guy at the grill that deserves the credit, right? Not the pitchman on TV.’” [Columbus Dispatch, 5/8/12]

Yost Blasted Fitzgerald For Considering Himself Above The Law.  According to Dave Yost’s blog, “For the last several years, Cuyahoga County has mailed out an absentee ballot application to every registered voter, along with a postage-paid reply envelope. Then Secretary of State Jon Husted issued something called a directive. Because it’s important that every county has the same rules about elections, he said, there were to be no more unsolicited mass mailings of absentee voter applications. Mr. Fitzgerald announced the rule did not apply to him, since he is not a Board of Elections. He’s going to spend the public’s money to mail the applications anyway, using the budget of the Service Department instead of the BOE. But here’s the problem: whether you like Secretary Husted’s rule or not, running elections in Ohio is his job.… So I wrote a letter to Mr. Fitzgerald, and questioned his plan. I asked him for more information, and told him that if he spends money without any authority to do so, next year’s audit could include a large finding for recovery. He plans to go ahead. By his actions, Mr. Fitzgerald has declared that he is his own law […] That way lies the lawlessness that has marked the courthouse there in recent years – and a blemish on the career of a man who began 2-11 by cleaning up and trimming down Cuyahoga County government. [Dave Yost Campaign Blog, 8/30/2011]

Yost’s press conference about JobsOhio audit findings sought to minimize them.  In explaining why he was not going to review the numerous instances in which his own office found that JobsOhio failed to comply with Ohio ethics laws that were written for it, or instituted ethics policies it was statutorily obligated to implement, or follow the policies it did write, Yost said “none of this is headline making stuff.” [Source: Marc Kovac at Ohio Capital Blog (11/21/2013), “Yost on JobsOhio Audit 1 of 7” around 4:07 mark.]

Yost dismissed the lack of documentation in JobsOhio as an issue.  When specifically addressing the lack of documentation to support tax dollars JobsOhio received from DSA, Yost remarked: “Not unusual that there is some lack of documentation. We don’t live in a perfect world.” [Source: Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Chrissie Thompson on Twitter (@CThompsonENQ): “Yost @OhioAuditor on incomplete receipt records: "Not unusual that there is some lack of documentation. We don't live in a perfect world."]

Any finding of recovery by the State Auditor is only enforceable if State Attorney General seeks to collect on it.  Ultimately, under R.C. 117.28, the collection of any findings for recovery by the State Auditor is the responsibility of the Office of the Ohio Attorney General. [Source: Ohio Revised Code § 117.28.]

Ohio Democratic Party Statement on Federal Judge’s Plan to Strike Down Ban on Marriage Equality in Ohio

CINCINNATI – Today, Friday, April 4, 2014, Federal Judge Timothy Black said he will soon issue a ruling striking down Ohio’s ban on gay marriage. The ruling will require the state of Ohio to recognize marriages of gay couples who have legally married in other states.

In response, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Today’s statement by Judge Black to strike down the discriminatory ban on marriage in Ohio is a small but important milestone in the fight for marriage equality. Governor Kasich has a long history of opposing same-sex marriage, and it is far past time for him and Attorney General Mike DeWine to stop their crusade on Ohio families who deserve equal and fair treatment in our state.”

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Yost Boasts Of Finding Misspending By Already Closed Charter School

Misspending Already Documented Years Ago

COLUMBUS –On Tuesday, Dave Yost released three audits regarding Elite Academy of the Arts, which was closed by the Ohio Department of Education in 2012, concerning spending from 2009 until it closed, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Yost should explain how the public is served when his office’s obvious backlog prevents relevant information about how tax money is being misspent from being uncovered in a timely manner.  If this is the best Yost can do, he’s proven to be a poor watchdog for Ohio taxpayers.  Because of Yost’s inability to timely release these audits, wrongdoers have years of a head start to avoid apprehension by law enforcement.”

Questions raised by Yost’s delayed release of these audits:

  1. Why was Elite Academy never audited by the State when it was open?
  2. Why did it take Yost’s office two more years to complete the audit of an already closed school over spending that occurred nearly five years ago?
  3. Why did Yost’s office not make it a priority to complete these audits once it was announced that the school was being closed due to poor academic performance?
  4. What became of Yost’s referral to the Ohio Ethics Commission in 2012 over this failed closed charter?
  5. What steps has Yost’s office taken to avoid further delays in completing audits of poor performing or closing charter schools?

BACKGROUND

The Ohio Department of Education ordered Elite Academy of the Arts closed before the State Auditor’s Office had ever audited it.  In 2011, the Ohio Department of Education ordered the Elite Academy of the Arts charter school to close in FY 2012. [Source: Ohio Department of Education.]

Prior to its closure, the Auditor’s Office apparently had never audited the charter school, but months after it closed released two audits concerning its activities in 2007-2009.  [Source: Ohio Auditor’s website.]

The first audit of the charter school Yost released in 2012 already showed the charter school had allegedly misspent money in buying alcohol on multiple occasions,  had poor support to justify cash withdraws,  and had poor financial reporting and recording safeguards.  The 2012 audits also alleged that the superintendent had an unlawful interest in the district’s contract with its operator since he was also the operator’s owner.  These are virtually the same findings Yost made in the audits he released on Tuesday.  [Source: State Auditor’s Audits for Elite Academy of the Arts released on 8/21/2012 and 4/1/2014 (five audits in total.)]

RNC Leader Reince Priebus Visits Ohio

Expected to Make Another Flawed Prediction About GOP Ground Game

SALEM, OHIO- Tonight, Friday, April 4th, 2014, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will fly into Ohio to headline the Columbiana County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner. In advance of the RNC Chairman’s speech, Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Meredith Tucker released the following statement:

“Tonight, we’re sure to hear a lot of bravado about the Republicans’ plans for a new ground game in Ohio. So while they start from scratch, we’re building on our successful, already-proven Get Out The Vote strategy. Reince was wrong on Ohio then, and he’s wrong on Ohio now.”

A few things to keep in mind as the national Republican leader comes to Ohio to talk 2014 “strategy”:

FLASHBACK: Priebus wrongly predicted in 2012, “We’re going to crush them in Ohio.”

NewYork Observer // “RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: ‘We’re Going to Crush Them in Ohio’”

That’s the one thing that I think that is a narrative out there that I just think is blatantly uninformed, which is the fact that the Democrats have this great ground game. I think we’re going to crush the Democrats on the ground,” Mr. Priebus said. “I just don’t think they’ve got a very good ground game. I’ve looked through it, I’ve seen it. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s a lot of talk, but when you go around the neighborhood and you look at who’s getting absentee ballots in the municipal clerks’ offices and you figure out who’s hitting their goals, in our case, we’ve got a sophisticated program around our GOP universe and we check that every single morning with municipal clerks’ offices that are hooked up to our system. And I just know that we’re better than them on the ground, and I think that we’re going to crush them in Ohio.”

REALITY:

The Wire // Romney’s Get Out The Vote Plan Was a Complete Disaster

“As Republicans continue to deconstruct the failure of the Romney campaign, volunteers have revealed that there were serious problems with the candidate’s whiz-bang tech solution for getting people to the polls.”

BUT, SERIOUSLY:

The Boston Globe // ORCA, Mitt Romney’s high-tech get-out-the-vote program Crashed on Election Day

“Mitt Romney’s online voter-turnout operation suffered a meltdown on Election Day, result­ing in a crucial 90-minute “buckling” of the system in Boston […]”

Ohio Democratic Candidates Remember SB 5 Anniversary

Three years ago today, Governor Kasich signed SB 5 into law

COLUMBUS – Today is the third anniversary of Governor Kasich’s signing of SB 5 into law.   As Democratic statewide candidates campaigned throughout the State as part of our “Working Families Tour” today, they issued the following statements in honor of today’s anniversary.

Gubernatorial Candidate Ed FitzGerald:

“Three years ago today, Governor Kasich began an assault on hardworking Ohioans. And while he lost that fight, it is clear that the Governor’s position on the right of workers to bargain for healthcare and a living wage remains unchanged. Just last week, he ‘scoffed’ at the impact of his cuts on firefighters and flew to Vegas to meet with one of the largest anti-union donors in the country. Ohio’s families can’t risk another four years of John Kasich.”

Ohio Attorney General Candidate David Pepper:

“Senate Bill 5 was a betrayal of the first responders, teachers, and other hardworking public employees who dedicate themselves to the people of Ohio. The Attorney General, as the state’s top legal officer, has a special duty to look out for these people and for all hardworking Ohioans. I will never stand silently by while the livelihood and safety of police, teachers, firefighters, or any Ohioans are under attack.”

Secretary of State Candidate Nina Turner:

“Three years ago, Governor Kaisch signed SB 5 into law. The grassroots campaign that followed demonstrated to the nation the power and importance of making every voter matter and every vote count.”

State Auditor Candidate John Patrick Carney:

“Public employees, like firefighters and teachers, provide critical services for all Ohioans. As public servants and pillars of our community, they each deserve fair wages and benefits to make their mortgage, put food on their table, and care for their family.”

State Treasurer Candidate Connie Pillich:

“Today is a reminder of why we must never forget the worker. I was proud to be a part of defeating SB 5 – which would have led to fewer firefighters responding to our emergencies, fewer police officers protecting our neighborhoods, and fewer resources for our schools.  As State Treasurer, I will continue to fight for working families, safeguard Ohioans’ hard earned tax dollars, and help protect and strengthen seniors’ retirement and pension security.”

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Josh Mandel Manufactures Award To Hide His Anti-Jobs Record

Mandel using State office to help his campaign . . . again

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, Josh Mandel announced the Treasurer’s office was launching an “Ohio Strong” award to recognize Ohio manufacturing workers, just in time for a re-election campaign in which Mandel continues to support policies harmful to both Ohio manufacturers and their workers.   In response to Mandel’s election-year inspired gimmick, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Josh Mandel announces a new award from his office just in time for another political campaign.  Given Mandel’s failure to help the workers at Ormet, his opposition to saving Ohio’s automobile industry, and his support for SB 5 and misleading “right to work” policies, Josh Mandel’s record and positions show he’s no friend to Ohio’s manufacturing workers.”

BACKGROUND 

Mandel told local residents that working to save 1,000 manufacturing jobs at Ormet “that his office has nothing to do with that.”  As Monroe County faced the prospect of losing 1,000 aluminum manufacturing jobs from the closure of Ormet, Josh Mandel was asked at a community forum what the State could do to fight to prevent those jobs from being lost.  Mandel reportedly replied that “his office has nothing to do with that.”  [Source: WTRF ABC-7 (10/23/13)]

Mandel opposed federal involvement in rescuing the U.S. automobile industry.  In its endorsement of Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, the Lima News wrote that: “Mandel continues to maintain the bailout was a mistake. There are no “what if’s” here. Voters can see the results: auto-related jobs in Ohio have increased by 6.1 percent, or 11,100 jobs, since the start of the bailout initiative in 2009. The Buckeye state, which has the second-highest total automotive industry employment after Michigan, stood to lose around 200,000 auto-related jobs under a worst-case bankruptcy scenario for General Motors and Chrysler.  [Source: Lima News (10/20/2012), “Editorial: Sherrod Brown our pick for U.S. Senate”]

Mandel even dismissed reports of the jobs saved by the auto rescue.  The Lima News reported that: “At the forum, Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians Local 776 President Mike Knisley asked Mandel why he opposes the auto loans. Knisley spoke about 850,000 jobs in Ohio being tied to the auto industry… That 850,000 jobs number has been tossed back and forth a great deal. Mandel places no stock in it. ’You know that number’s ridiculous. That number comes from a made up organization in Michigan that says if there’s a lady working in a diner five miles from a – ‘ Mandel said to Knisley, not finishing his sentence.

The number came from the Center for Automotive Research, a highly-regarded in-dependent industry research group in Ann Arbor, Mich.” [Source:  Lima News (10/6/2012), “Sherrod Brown vs. Josh Mandel”]

Mandel thinks Ohio should be a Right to Work state.  The Tuscarawas Times Reporter: “He thinks Ohio should become a right-to-work state such as Indiana, where there are laws against requiring employees to join or pay dues to any employee organization. He said individuals should be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not they want to join a union. The decision ‘should be in the hands of workers, not the government,’ Mandel said.”  [Source: Massillon Independent (6/18/13), “Mandel to governor: Get out of the way of oil, gas”]

Mandel supported SB 5 even after voters overwhelmingly rejected it.  During his failed U.S. Senate campaign, Josh Mandel continued to publicly support Senate Bill 5, even after voters overwhelmingly defeated it.  [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (3/2/12), “Treasurer of Ohio running for U.S. Senate”]

Paid for and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party, not authorized by any federal candidate or campaign committee. Chris Redfern, Chairman, 340 East Fulton St, Columbus, Ohio 43215.