After Last Minute Appeal by Ohio Republicans, Early Voting is Delayed

COLUMBUS- This afternoon, Monday, September 29th, 2014, the United States Supreme Court granted Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted’s motion for an emergency stay, placing early voting on hold–an eleventh hour change the night before early voting was set to begin. In response to the news that Early Vote won’t begin until October 7th, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the disastrous 2004 election, when Ohio was thrust into the national spotlight for mismanagement of Ohio election rules and procedures, a national embarrassment and horrible experience for Ohio voters. These early voting hours and the availability of same-day registration were specifically created to address those problems, and thanks to DeWine and Husted, we are right back where we started. This is an unfortunate loss for Ohio voters, and the Ohio Republicans who have been fighting tooth-and-nail to erode early voting hours should be ashamed.”

Did Matt Borges Commit Perjury in Federal Court?

Longtime Political Consultant Terry Casey Testifies 

of Republican Plot to Block Libertarian Candidates from Ballot 

COLUMBUS – This morning, longtime Republican political consultant and Kasich Administration political appointee Terry Casey testified in federal court that he found someone with standing to challenge the Libertarian Party candidates’ petitions and hired the law firm who pushed Charlie Earl, the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor off the ballot.  While Casey denied the Kasich campaign “assigned” him the project, Casey admitted that he personally blind carbon copied top Kasich campaign staffers in emails about challenging Earl’s candidate petition.  In at least one email with Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office, Casey stated that he was, in fact, acting on behalf of the Kasich campaign, but today tried to claim he overstated the connection to draw attention to his email within the Secretary of State’s office.

Casey was appointed to chair the Ohio Board of Personnel Review by Governor Kasich shortly after taking office.  Casey is the former executive director of the Franklin County Party and now a media consultant for the party. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (1/22/2011), “Kasich alters order on work rights.”]  Casey worked on the Governor’s 2010 campaign and currently makes $70,000 a year from his appointment.  [Source:  Associated Press (9/2/2014), “Libertarians protest Kasich ties to ballot decision.”]

Back in February, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges told the press he was familiar with the challenge against Earl’s petition because “I think we were the ones that filed the complaint.”  [Source: Marc Kovac, Ohio Capital Blog (2/28/14), “Borges Gaggle 2 of 3”].   Borges later claimed that he misspoke and testified back in March that the party had nothing to do with the challenge, going as far as to say: “Anyone who’s looking for the conspiracy behind it – it’s just not there.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (3/17/2014), “Ohio GOP chairman denies party involvement in challenges to Libertarian Charlie Earl's candidacy.”]

In response to this latest development in Casey’s testimony, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Today a longtime Kasich friend and senior Republican political operative testified he kept top Kasich campaign officials in the loop on his efforts to get the Libertarian candidate thrown off the ballot in order to help Governor John Kasich’s re-election efforts.  Both Matt Borges and the rest of Kasich’s re-election team took extraordinary efforts to publicly deny and hide their knowledge and involvement in blocking the Libertarian candidate from the ballot.  The question now is: was Matt Borges lying under oath when he denied any Republican involvement in this plot?”

Husted Ad Takes Credit For Following Federal Law

COLUMBUS – Today, Secretary of State Jon Husted aired his first ad of the campaign championing what his office has done to assist military voters.  However, what the ad fails to mention is that virtually everything Husted did was required by federal law after Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment (MOVE) Act of 2009, which amended the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

The MOVE Act mandated that States provide electronic access to military voters to the election process, mail absentee ballots to military voters 45 days before the election, and develop an electronic tracking system for military and overseas voters to check whether their ballots were received and counted.  In other words, the very things Husted is boasting in his ad are all things mandated by federal law.

In response to Husted’s campaign, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“Given the number of times that federal courts have ruled that Jon Husted has violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act, it is pathetic that Husted is touting an instance in which he actually followed the law as if it were an achievement, not his duty.   Husted’s ad is tragically ironic given it airs the day after Husted and Mike DeWine filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Supreme Court to block active military voters, members of the Ohio National Guard, and our veterans from enjoying the early voting opportunities they’ve used in past elections.  Ohio deserves a Secretary of State that respects the laws and the voters like State Senator Nina Turner.”

An August poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Party showed Jon Husted narrowly ahead of Senator Nina Turner by 46% to 43%.

BACKGROUND

Yesterday, Jon Husted filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Supreme Court to block evening and weekend early voting hours from taking effect next week.  After losing both at the district court level and with an unanimous opinion by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Secretary of State Jon Husted filed an emergency motion with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court from blocking the restoration of weekend and early evening hours the federal courts have found Husted unconstitutionally took away from Ohio voters.  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (9/25/2014), “Ohio asks Supreme Court to intervene in court fight over early voting.”]

Jon Husted supported cutting early voting days by a week.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.”  Currently, Ohio law permits early voting for thirty-five days before the general election.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”

Federal courts had  already ruled that Husted’s prior attempts to cut general election early voting days were illegal when he tried to carve out an exception for military voters.  In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off in-person early voting the Friday before the general election for all but active duty military voters.  Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed them after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign.  [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]

The decision to declare Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day was unconstitutional was upheld by federal appellate courts.  The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.”  “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.”

[Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]

According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used Early Voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]

The Prologue to “Johnny’s Story”

Wilmington Yet Another Example of Kasich Misrepresenting His Record

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, the Kasich-Taylor campaign released a new campaign ad titled “Johnny’s Story,” about the expansion of jobs at the Wilmington Air Park. However, the Kasich campaign left a few key details left on the cutting room floor. In fact, AMES wouldn’t be there today if the following hadn’t happened:

  • In 2009, 431 new jobs were created when AMES was awarded tax credits under the Strickland Administration, creating 431 new jobs. [Source: Ohio Department of Development, 2009 Job Creation Tax Credit Annual Report pg. 30.]  The following year, the Strickland Administration completed the transfer of the Air Park to the City of Wilmington and Clinton County Port Authority, putting the park in the communities’ ownership. [Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (11/11/2008), “Strickland pledges help.”]

The later expansion of AMES under Kasich would not have been possible without the initial actions by the Strickland Administration to bring AMES to the Air Park in 2009 in the first place and making it possible for AMES to take over the management of the Park in 2010.

  • The Kasich ad also neglects the fact that the administration literally raided other Ohio communities of jobs in order to claim it had brought jobs to Wilmington.  The Columbus Dispatch reported that “[t]wo months after celebrating with Gov. John Kasich over a state-sponsored tax deal to add jobs in Wilmington, TimberTech formally notified the state it will close its Columbus factory.” [Source: Columbus Dispatch (7/31/2013)]
  • And sadly, Clinton County’s economy is struggling under Kasich’s policies.  In August, the county had the 13th highest county unemployment rate in Ohio.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Clinton County is on the rise, higher now than it was in April, and there are less people employed in Clinton County than when Kasich took office.

In response to this latest Kasich campaign ad, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Leave it to Governor John Kasich to ignore the fact that his own failed policies have hurt Ohio communities like Clinton County while taking credit in a campaign ad for the economic progress that was only possible because of Ted Strickland.  Ohio’s economy is stalling with Kasich behind the wheel.”

BACKGROUND

For the 21st straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to the July jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “July 2014 was the 21st consecutive month when Ohio’s job growth was slower than the U.S. national average, with the gap between Ohio’s rate and the U.S. rate increasing in July.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/15/2014), “Ohio lost 12,400 jobs in July: Unemployment rate up to 5.7%.”]

Illinois created more jobs in August alone that Ohio has so far this year.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio has created only 8,300 new jobs since January, which is less than the 13,800 jobs Illinois created in August alone.

Job creation under John Kasich in Ohio has lagged U.S. job growth.  In fact, at least 8 other governor’s terms since 1959 have seen stronger job growth than Ohio has seen so far under John Kasich.  [Source:  Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/5/2014), “Ohio lags U.S. jobs growth, as it has under a half-century of governors from John Kasich to Michael DiSalle.”]

In fact, Ohio’s job creation rate is substantially the lowest of any State in the region for the past year.  Ohio’s job creation rate for the past twelve months is half of West Virginia’s and nearly a third of Kentucky’s or Michigan’s, according to the Governor’s Office of Budget and Management.  [Source: Ohio Office of Budget & Management, September Monthly Financial Report, pg. 4]

When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate.  Now, Ohio’s ranked 41st in job creation with a rate less than a third of the national rate.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.  Now, Ohio is ranked 41st in the nation with a job growth rate  (.58%) lower than it was in 2010 and a third of the current national rate (1.84%). [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 9/24/2014)]

Ohio actually had more jobs in April than August.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio had more jobs in April than it reported in July.  [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES Survey, seasonally adjusted numbers (accessed at 8/18/2014).]

In 2010, Ohio created over 55,000 new jobs — more than it did in 2013 under Kasich.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio created 55,100 jobs in 2010, a year before Kasich took office, while only creating 50,400 jobs last year.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)].

Job gains under Kasich are in lower paying industries than the jobs lost in the recession.  “Weekly hourly earnings in the industries that showed employment gains since the recession in Ohio range from $12 to about $25 per hour,” [Veronica Kalich, an economics professor at Baldwin Wallace University] said, adding that professional and business services came in a little higher. “Employment has not recovered in the higher paying jobs.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (7/7/2014), “Ohio has not recovered 120,000 jobs lost since the recession: some say number higher.”]

Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by 91,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 91,000 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In 2014 so far alone, over 43,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/15/2014)]

Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]

Ohio Voters Win, Husted Wrong For The Umpteenth Time

It’s Time for Republican Secretary of State to Drop Suppression Attempts

COLUMBUS – In response to today’s U.S. Sixth Circuit decision upholding the federal district court decision declaring Jon Husted’s directive and other efforts to cut early voting in Ohio before the November general elections as an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“Jon Husted’s tenure as Secretary of State has been one partisan, unconstitutional scheme after another to make it harder for Ohioans to vote that has cost taxpayers over $400,000 in taxpayer money to defend.  With early voting beginning in just six days, it’s time for Jon Husted to drop any further appeals, as he has caused enough voter confusion already.  Ohioans deserve a Secretary of State that will fight for expansive voting opportunities for working middle class families, not contribute to voter confusion with last ditch appeals.  That is why Ohioans are looking to elect State Senator Nina Turner to be the next Secretary of State.”

An August poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Party showed Jon Husted narrowly ahead of Senator Nina Turner by 46% to 43%.

BACKGROUND

Three major Ohio editorials made it clear that these bills were being passed for no other reason than deny likely Democratic voters the vote before the 2014 election.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial said that the measures “aim to limit voting by Ohioans who might vote for Democrats” and called passage of the bills “an affront to democracy” that allowed politicians to “pick their own voters.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/19/2014), “Ohio House Republicans should walk away from bills aimed at decreasing the ease of voting in Ohio”]

The Toledo Blade editorial said the bills “would make it harder to vote among citizens whom GOP politicians would rather keep away from the polls.” On the GOP argument that the bills were need to fight “voter fraud,” the Blade noted “[t]hat argument would be more credible if those who make it could point to specific examples of fraud in Ohio voting that their measures would prevent. But they can’t offer evidence of systematic fraud, because it doesn’t exist.  These bad measures aren’t as blatant as the poll taxes and literacy tests that Southern elections officials used during the civil rights era a half-century ago to keep African-Americans from voting. But their effect is largely, and intolerably, the same, and their approval would seem to invite court challenges under federal voting rights law.” [Source: Toledo Blade (2/19/14), “Don’t suppress the vote”]

The Akron Beacon Journal editorial noted that the Republicans decided that “[r]ather than work in a bipartisan way on a comprehensive overhaul of election laws, the Republican-run legislature has proceeded on its own unfortunate course. This week, the Ohio House is working on bills that push aside important priorities and contain flaws that would make voting more difficult.” [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (2/18/2014), “Election partisans”]

Jon Husted supported cutting early voting days by a week.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.”  Currently, Ohio law permits early voting for thirty-five days before the general election.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”

Federal courts had  already ruled that Husted’s prior attempts to cut general election early voting days were illegal.  In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off early voting the Friday before the general election.  Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed them after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign.  [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]

The decision to declare Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day was unconstitutional was upheld by federal appellate courts.  The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.”  “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.”

[Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]

According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used Early Voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]

Ohio’s Economy Stagnant Under John Kasich’s Failed Policies

After inheriting a recovery, Kasich’s policies have stalled Ohio

COLUMBUS – This morning, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released the August jobs report and revised July figures for Ohio. After losing nearly 3,000 jobs in May, the revised July figure  showed Ohio lost 8,600 jobs.  For the sixth consecutive month, Ohio’s labor force shrank, keeping Ohio’s labor participation rate below the national rate (which is the real reason why Ohio’s unemployment rate manages to be below the national rate).   This is fourth straight month that the number of employed Ohioans has shrunk as well.

Ohio lost 6,600 in trade, transportation, and utilities and another 3,500 jobs in construction in August.  Ohio’s unemployment rate stayed the same, which is at the same level it was in April 2014.  Ohio created a net of only 200 jobs.  Ohio’s job creation rate for the past twelve months is half of West Virginia’s and nearly a third of Kentucky’s or Michigan’s, according to the Governor’s Office of Budget and Management.  [Source: Ohio Office of Budget & Management, September Monthly Financial Report, pg. 4]

In response to this month’s economic data, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“When John Kasich came into office, Ohio was already nearly a year into a strong economic recovery that was lowering the unemployment rate by creating jobs. With Kasich behind the wheel, Ohio is stuck in neutral while the Governor entertains delusional fantasizes of being President.  Kasich’s policies have failed to create the jobs Ohioans need, all while shifting the tax burden onto middle class families.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT OHIO’S LAGGING ECONOMY:

After calling the July jobs report “disappointing,”  “July 2014 was the 21st consecutive month when Ohio’s job growth was slower than the U.S. national average, with the gap between Ohio’s rate and the U.S. rate increasing in July.”Economic Research Analyst George Zeller.  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/15/2014), “Ohio lost 12,400 jobs in July: Unemployment rate up to 5.7%.”]

“About the only thing that’s made the numbers look good at all is the decline is the decline in the labor force.”—Economist Bill LaFayette, owner of economic consulting firm Regionomics.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (8/16/2014), “Blip or start of a trend? Jobless rate rises to 5.7%.”]

“Ohio hasn’t had the big rebound like other states.”—Michael Wolf, an economist with Wells Fargo & Co. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/21/2014), “Ohio's jobless rate of 5.5% lowest since April 2007.”]

BACKGROUND

For the 21st straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to the July jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “July 2014 was the 21st consecutive month when Ohio’s job growth was slower than the U.S. national average, with the gap between Ohio’s rate and the U.S. rate increasing in July.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/15/2014), “Ohio lost 12,400 jobs in July: Unemployment rate up to 5.7%.”]

Job creation under John Kasich in Ohio has lagged U.S. job growth.  In fact, at least 8 other governor’s terms since 1959 have seen stronger job growth than Ohio has seen so far under John Kasich.  [Source:  Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/5/2014), “Ohio lags U.S. jobs growth, as it has under a half-century of governors from John Kasich to Michael DiSalle.”]

When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate.  Now, Ohio’s ranked 38th in job creation.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.  Now, Ohio is ranked 38th in the nation with a job growth rate  (.83%) lower than it was in 2010. [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 6/23/2014)]

Ohio actually had more jobs in April than July.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio had more jobs in April than it reported in July.  [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (CES Survey, seasonally adjusted numbers (accessed at 8/18/2014).]

In 2010, Ohio created over 55,000 new jobs — more than it did in 2013 under Kasich.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio created 55,100 jobs in 2010, a year before Kasich took office, while only creating 50,400 jobs last year.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)].

Job gains under Kasich are in lower paying industries than the jobs lost in the recession.  “Weekly hourly earnings in the industries that showed employment gains since the recession in Ohio range from $12 to about $25 per hour,” [Veronica Kalich, an economics professor at Baldwin Wallace University] said, adding that professional and business services came in a little higher. “Employment has not recovered in the higher paying jobs.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (7/7/2014), “Ohio has not recovered 120,000 jobs lost since the recession: some say number higher.”]

Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by 91,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 91,000 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In 2014 so far alone, over 43,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/15/2014)]

Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]

Mandel Continues to Defend Suarez Letter as Status Quo Constituent Work

Yet repeatedly claims he cannot recall facts related to Suarez

COLUMBUS – In today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board interview, State Treasurer Josh Mandel again defended his letter to the State Treasurer of California in which Mandel threatened to have the Ohio Attorney General sue California over deceptive consumer practice litigation the Napa County District Attorney was pursuing against the company of Benjamin Suarez, a major source of campaign donations to Mandel’s failed U.S. Senate campaign in 2012.

In today’s editorial board meeting, Mandel defensively said, “I think that’s what constituents expect of their public officials,” when pressed on his action in the Suarez scandals after years of refusing to publicly answering questions.  But when asked about whether Mandel was personally involved in writing the letter for Suarez, about his visit to Suarez’s house, or when Mandel has ever been personally involved in other constituent requests for assistance, Mandel could not recall.

Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

“Only Josh Mandel would believe that elected officials should exchange their official letterhead for question campaign contributions.  Ohio taxpayers expect our elected officials to put the office first, set aside petty partisanship, and deliver real results.  That’s why Connie Pillich is the perfect fit for the job. She doesn’t worry about keeping score, she just gets the job done.”

Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik disagreed with Mandel’s claim that his assistance for Suarez was above board.  Back in October of last year, Naymik said that it was clear Mandel failed to “filter out heavy-handed donors’ agenda attached to political money” and the whole affair made Mandel “look like a patsy.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (10/22/2013), “Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel's interaction with indicted political donor Benjamim Suarez is not good public service.”]

BACKGROUND

May 13th, 2011: Mandel personally asked Suarez to raise $100,000.  “Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel asked North Canton businessman Benjamin Suarez to raise $100,000 for the Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign, according to a federal indictment charging Suarez and an associate with illegally funneling about $200,000 to Mandel and a GOP congressman.” [Source: Columbus Dispatch (9/28/2013), “Josh Mandel asked Benjamin Suarez to raise campaign cash.”]

March 15th, 2011: Suarez met Mandel to discuss writing letters on SCI’s behalf. Days later, Mandel wrote a letter to Renacci asking him to act for the Suarez company.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/5/2014), “Illegal campaign cash scheme began after donor met with Mandel.”]

May 23rd, 2011: Mandel sends letter to the California state treasurer. A spokesman for the California Treasurer said that Mandel’s letter read like it was written by an “ill-informed constituent.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (10/9/2013), “California treasurer's office surprised by Josh Mandel's letter on behalf of Benjamin Suarez.”]

May 26th, 2011: Mandel’s Senate campaign collects donations.  “On May 13, 2011, according to prosecutors, Mandel asked Suarez to raise $100,000 for his Senate campaign. And on May 23, 2011, Mandel sent another letter – this one to the California state treasurer. Soon after, Mandel’s Senate campaign collected the donations arranged by Suarez. That letter, along with the letter to Renacci, were sent on official treasurer’s office letterhead.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (06/13/14), “A closer look at Scott Guthrie, aide to Josh Mandel and behind-the-scenes figure in Ben Suarez case]

Guthrie named as the person who collected the donations.  “Michael Giorgio, a former top executive at Suarez’s company and the federal government’s star witness, mentioned Guthrie by name in testimony…identifying him as the Mandel aide responsible for collecting donations.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (06/13/14), “A closer look at Scott Guthrie, aide to Josh Mandel and behind-the-scenes figure in Ben Suarez case]

It was unclear whether Guthrie was still working for the State Treasurer’s Office, the transition office, or Mandel’s Senate campaign. “It’s not clear who Guthrie was working for when documents first show him acting as the courier. Prosecutors identify Guthrie as an employee of the Senate campaign as early as March 21, 2011. Mandel at the time could not raise money for his Senate bid because he had not yet formed a campaign committee for that office.  Guthrie left his job at the treasurer’s office on Feb. 26, 2011.  Mandel filed the paperwork to establish his campaign on April 6, 2011.”

“The Josh Mandel Transition Fund, created after Mandel’s election in November 2010, paid Guthrie a total of $5,500 for consulting work in February and March of 2011.  The transition account and Mandel’s state campaign fund also reimbursed Guthrie for more than $5,000 in travel expenses from January through March of that year – including a $1,700 reimbursement from the state campaign fund on March 29, 2011.  And the Ohio Republican Party, which is closely aligned with Mandel and other GOP state officeholders, paid Guthrie $5,200 for consulting on April 14, 2011.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (06/13/14), “A closer look at Scott Guthrie, aide to Josh Mandel and behind-the-scenes figure in Ben Suarez case]

Why Gutherie’s status with Mandel matters:  “This timeline is important because it continues May 23, 2011, with a missive – on official Ohio treasurer letterhead – from Mandel to the California treasurer. Guthrie, according to prosecutors, had been representing Mandel’s Senate campaign when he worked on the letters. The work resulted in action from the treasurer’s office. Soon after, donations from Suarez, his employees and their families began arriving.”

Ultimately, “[t]he question here, given that Guthrie was not an employee of the treasurer’s office at the time, is whether Mandel improperly mixed campaigning with public business.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (06/13/14), “A closer look at Scott Guthrie, aide to Josh Mandel and behind-the-scenes figure in Ben Suarez case]

Kasich Refuses to Comment on State Budget Cuts that Lead to T.J. Lane Escape

COLUMBUS – Despite numerous requests from reporters, Governor Kasich has refused to comment on records showing the state’s drastic budget cuts to Ohio’s prisons lead to the overcrowding and understaffing that allowed Chardon school shooter T.J. Lane and two others to escape from Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution last week. Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Meredith Tucker released the following statement:

“It’s reprehensible that Governor Kasich refuses to comment on a serious public safety threat simply to avoid political blowback. Under Governor Kasich, prison violence is increasing and now three dangerous criminals escaped, but rather than address these concerns the Governor is simply hiding from tough questions. With the cause of the prison escape so clear, Ohioans shouldn’t have to wait to hear about what the Administration knew before the escape happened and what he’s going to do now to keep our corrections officers and our communities safe from future escapes. Governor Kasich cannot be allowed to continue to duck tough questions until November 5.”

Increasing Prison Violence & Escapes Under Kasich

Kasich’s Plan to Decrease Prison Population Failed: “A two-year-old plan to reduce Ohio’s prison inmate population is not having the hoped-for impact, with the number of prisoners behind bars expected to spike beyond estimates, the director of the state prison system said Thursday. The state’s already high population of 50,000 could soar to 52,000 in two years and top 53,000 in six years, Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said in a presentation to a legislative prison inspection committee.” [Akron Beacon Journal, 8/29/2013]

Advocates Warned Last Year That Prison Overcrowding Could Lead to Riots, Escapes: “The union representing correctional officers and other employees at prisons said on Thursday that Ohio is forgetting the lessons it learned from Lucasville as budget cuts take their toll on staffing levels, even as inmate populations far exceed the buildings’ designed capacities. “It looks like a lot of the red flags in the early 1990s are flashing again in Ohio,” said Paul Goldberg, former executive director of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, who wrote a report on the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s needs after the Lucasville riot.” [Toledo Blade, 4/4/2013]

April Inspection Showed Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution Over Capacity: “Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution was last inspected in April 2014, when it had 1,635 inmates, over the prison’s rated capacity of 1,418. During the inspection by Ohio Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, the security of the facility was rated as “good.” [WKYC, 9/11/2014]

Former Ohio Prison Warden Calls TJ Lane Escape “Unacceptable”: “A former Ohio prison warden is calling the escape by school shooter T.J. Lane “unacceptable” and suspects staff cutbacks could be blamed. Norman Rose was longtime prison warden in Ohio and says a gradual reduction in prison staffing over recent years is among a combination of factors that contributed to Lane’s escape. “So you would have one person doing what two people used to do and then one doing what three would do and so on,” said Rose, speaking about prison cutbacks.” [ABC5, 9/12/2014]

Prison Where T.J. Lane Escaped Besieged by Budget Cuts: “There were at one time three prisons, then two and now only one at the sprawling Allen Oakwood Correctional Institute where convicted Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane jumped a fence north of Lima, Ohio. The breakout came at the end of a long string of budget cuts at the 100-year-old site; reports of unmanned guard towers and skeleton crew guard teams have mounted.” [Plain Dealer, 9/13/2014]

Yet Again—Federal Court Finds Husted Violated Ohioans’ Voting Rights

Republican Secretary of State has turned the office into a partisan lapdog, not a watchdog for voters’ rights

COLUMBUS – In response to today’s federal court ruling declaring Jon Husted’s directive and other efforts to cut early voting in Ohio before the November general elections as a violation of the constitution and of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“Jon Husted has a documented history of filing last minute appeals and issuing unconstitutional, eleventh-hour directives that aim to prevent convenient early voting hours, and this partisan agenda has wasted over $400,000 of taxpayers’ dollars.  Ohioans deserve a Secretary of State that will fight for expansive voting opportunities for working middle class families, not add to voter confusion with last ditch appeals.  That is why Ohioans will elect State Senator Nina Turner to be the next Secretary of State.”

An August poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Ohio Democratic Party showed Jon Husted narrowly ahead of Senator Nina Turner by 46% to 43%.

FROM TODAY’S OPINION: “Secretary Husted has offered no explanation as to why uniformity, standing alone, should be considered an interest important enough to effectively make it harder for groups of citizens to vote.”[Source: Memorandum Opinion and Order, page 59-60 (9/4/2014)]

BACKGROUND

Three major Ohio editorials made it clear that these bills were being passed for no other reason than deny likely Democratic voters the vote before the 2014 election.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial said that the measures “aim to limit voting by Ohioans who might vote for Democrats” and called passage of the bills “an affront to democracy” that allowed politicians to “pick their own voters.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/19/2014), “Ohio House Republicans should walk away from bills aimed at decreasing the ease of voting in Ohio”]

The Toledo Blade editorial said the bills “would make it harder to vote among citizens whom GOP politicians would rather keep away from the polls.” On the GOP argument that the bills were need to fight “voter fraud,” the Blade noted “[t]hat argument would be more credible if those who make it could point to specific examples of fraud in Ohio voting that their measures would prevent. But they can’t offer evidence of systematic fraud, because it doesn’t exist.  These bad measures aren’t as blatant as the poll taxes and literacy tests that Southern elections officials used during the civil rights era a half-century ago to keep African-Americans from voting. But their effect is largely, and intolerably, the same, and their approval would seem to invite court challenges under federal voting rights law.” [Source: Toledo Blade (2/19/14), “Don’t suppress the vote”]

The Akron Beacon Journal editorial noted that the Republicans decided that “[r]ather than work in a bipartisan way on a comprehensive overhaul of election laws, the Republican-run legislature has proceeded on its own unfortunate course. This week, the Ohio House is working on bills that push aside important priorities and contain flaws that would make voting more difficult.” [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (2/18/2014), “Election partisans”]

Jon Husted supported cutting early voting days by a week.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.”  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”]

Federal courts already ruled in 2012 and 2014 that Husted’s prior attempts to cut general election early voting days were illegal.  In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off early voting the Friday before the general election.  Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed course after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign.  [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]

This relief granted by the Court was made permanent in 2014. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (6/11/2014), “Federal court orders Ohio restore early voting hours on 3 days before Election Day.”]

The decision declaring Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day unconstitutional was upheld by federal appellate courts.  The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.”  “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.”

[Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]

According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used early in-person voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]

Ohio Democratic Party Sues Mandel over Refusal to Comply With Public Records Request

COLUMBUS –Today, the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against State Treasurer Josh Mandel over his refusal to comply with his legal obligation to provide copies of requested public records for nearly two months regarding his taxpayer-funded tele-town halls and his office’s involvement to assist corrupt businessman and Mandel donor Benjamin Suarez.

At issue in the case is a July 18th, 2014 public records request in which the Ohio Democratic Party made an official request to Treasurer Mandel’s office for the following:

  • A copy of any and all documents produced from March 1, 2014 until present to Laura Bischoff, a reporter for the Dayton Daily News, in response to any public records request she filed regarding tele-town halls.
  • A copy of any and all executed contracts for services, not approved by the State Controlling Board (such as contracts not statutorily requiring approval by the Controlling Board), related to telephone town halls with constituents on behalf of the Treasurer’s Office for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.
  • A copy of all request for bids or proposals and all received bids or proposals for services related to telephone town halls with constituents on behalf of the Treasurer’s Office for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.
  • A copy of any and all correspondences, whether written or electronic, between Scott Guthrie and Eric Synenberg from February 2011 until August 2011 concerning either Benjamin Suarez or Suarez Corporation Industries (a.k.a. “SCI”).
  • In the event your office claims that any document requested has since been destroyed before receipt of this request, please provide me with a copy of the appropriate Certificate of Records Disposal for such records.

To date, not only has Josh Mandel’s office failed to provide the documents, but his office has failed to even acknowledge receipt of the requests despite being addressed to Mandel’s Deputy Treasurer Seth Metcalf.  This after a 3-month publicity blitz touting his record on transparency and accessibility.

With regard to the lawsuit filed, Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Josh Mandel has a well-documented history of stonewalling public records requests for years, and avoids any and every question about his cozy relationship and willingness to help his convicted donor Benjamin Suarez.  Mandel’s unwillingness to provide any transparency or accountability of his office is as unconscionable as it is hypocritical.  It is Mandel’s duty to the taxpayers of Ohio to release the records immediately so Ohioans can find out how Josh has used tax dollars to promote himself in an election year and how his office went to bat for Suarez.”

BACKGROUND

Mandel brags about transparency and accessibility.  In an interview with the Northeast Ohio Media Group, Josh Mandel was asked how he is not hypocritical for politicizing his office after criticizing his predecessor for the same problem.  He responded, “In our administration, first and foremost, we try to be accessible to constituents. One of my pet peeves is when you see people running for public office campaign on being accessible and then when they get in there, oftentimes they are not open to the people. I’ve tried to be as accessible as possible to my constituents.”  [Source: Northeast Ohio Media Group (8/25/2014), “Josh Mandel talks about cleaning up after Kevin Boyce and connecting with the black community but remains tight-lipped on Ben Suarez: Q&A”]

In the same interview, Mandel declines to comment on his involvement with Benjamin Suarez.  When asked about comments his aides made suggesting his testimony would be “damaging” to the defense had he been called to the stand, Mandel said, “I’m not going to comment on something that never happened.”  [Source: Northeast Ohio Media Group (8/25/2014), “Josh Mandel talks about cleaning up after Kevin Boyce and connecting with the black community but remains tight-lipped on Ben Suarez: Q&A”]

Mandel ignored multiple public record requests for over a year to release resumes of staffers he hired upon taking office.  The Ohio Democratic Party sent nine record requests over 14-months requesting Mandel produce resumes of the people he hired.  [Source: Ohio Democratic Party Press Release (6/12/2012), “Ohio Democratic Party Files 9th Public Records Request For Treasurer’s Office Staff Resumes Following Josh Mandel’s 14-Month Refusal To Fully Disclose Them.”]

Mandel then again refused to produce the same records to another group requesting his staffers’ resumes.  After ignoring the requests for months, American Bridge reported that it, too, had received no records or even an acknowledgement of receipt of a record request from Mandel’s office for months.  Frustrated by Mandel’s lack of response, the group threaten to sue Mandel for failure to comply with Ohio’s public record laws.  [Source: American Bridge PAC Press Release (8/23/2012), “Josh Mandel Refusing to Comply with Ohio Open Records Law.”]

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.