Ohio Loses Longtime Democratic Leader Paul Tipps

COLUMBUS— Former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Paul Tipps died this afternoon (Tuesday, April 21st, 2015) surrounded by his loving family.

Tipps’ family released the following statement:

“Children with loving fathers learn early on that they are wanted and they have value.  Our father’s love inspired us to become secure, productive adults, and his lessons on life taught us to embrace the Democratic Party principles of opportunity and justice for all.

“People have long praised his ability bring people together to get things done. He partnered with CJ McLin during the height of racial tensions in Dayton. He deftly worked with both parties in the state legislature on policies that moved Ohio forward.

“Some of his abilities to lead came naturally. Some came from on-the-job-training as the father of four daughters.  The daughters out-numbered him and occasionally ganged up on him. But he always won by urging us to defer to our better angels.

“We miss him already.”

– Debora Batta, Penny Tipps, Tammara Tipps, Polly Tipps-Kesig and Tony Tipps

In response to Tipps’ passing, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said, “When Paul stepped down as Democratic Party Chair, Democrats controlled statewide offices, the legislature, Supreme Court and both U.S. Senate seats—an incredible legacy of success.  And all of those officeholders made a difference for the people of Ohio.”

“On a personal note, both when he served as chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, and long after, Paul was a personal friend and mentor of many Democrats over the years, including myself.

“My thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire Ohio Democratic Party, are with Paul and his family at this difficult time,” said Pepper.

Upon the news of Tipps’ passing, former U.S. Senator John Glenn said, “Annie and I are very saddened to know of the passing of our good friend Paul Tipps.  Paul did great work as a civic activist through so many years.  The State of Ohio, our John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University and we personally had no better friend.  His loss is a major one for us all.”

Here We Go Again…Republicans Take Aim at Workers in State Budget

COLUMBUS — Last week, Ohio House Republicans amended the proposed state budget to include language that attacks workers’ rights and workers in Ohio.  The amended language effectively bars faculty at public universities from organizing to collectively bargain, forbids project labor agreements, and prohibits charter schools employees the same rights afforded to their public counterparts.

Some of the amendment language is nearly identical to a section of Senate Bill 5 from 2011 that was enacted by the Republican led House and Senate and supported by Governor John Kasich.  Senate Bill 5 became the infamous anti-union law that Ohio voters overturned decisively in a referendum that fall.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper released the following statement:

“Here we go again. This attack on the rights of those who educate our young people is a slap in the face to the voters who rejected this very provision in 2011.  And now House Republicans seem to have found a new target by attempting to undermine the skilled trades across our state. At a time that Ohio’s families seek an increase in wages, House Republicans remain dedicated to running them down. 

“Ohioans knew how much it would hurt our communities when they overwhelmingly spoke up and overturned SB 5 just a few years ago. House Republicans need to respect the will of the people and remove this language from the state budget immediately.”

Ohio Democratic Party Thanks NAACP, ACLU, League of Women Voters For Hard Work in Protecting Voting Rights

COLUMBUS- Today, following years of a hard-fought lawsuit filed by the NAACP against Secretary of State Jon Husted, a settlement agreement was reached that guarantees evening and weekend early voting hours through the end of 2018.


In response to the agreement, Ohio Democratic Party Chair of Engagement Nina Turner released the following statement:

“The Ohio Democratic Party thanks the NAACP, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, Bethel AME Church, and everyone else who worked so hard for this very important victory in protecting voting rights. It is a shame that over and over again, it takes lawsuits and groups going to court to defend Ohio voters from these relentless attacks on our constitutional rights. We are glad progress was made today and those harmful cuts to voting access were overturned.”

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Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

 

Most Recent Polling Shows Rob Portman Down By 9 Points

COLUMBUS — Today, Quinnipiac University released a poll of registered voters in Ohio, showing that if the election were held today, Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman would lose his job…by a whopping 9 points!  Additionally, Portman’s favorability rating is remarkably low at 38 percent.  Head-to-head, Portman is losing badly with Independents (50-32), and loses both men and women voters.
 
In response to Portman’s very weak poll results today, Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Meredith Tucker released the following statement:
 
“The national media is finally waking up to what we’ve known in Ohio for years: Rob Portman is in deep trouble in Ohio, and that’s why he is raising and spending gobs of money on cynical attacks. As a Washington insider for decades, Portman’s priorities are with his special interest friends, not his Ohio constituents–which is why he is so unknown back at home.” 
 
“Senator Portman will struggle to change these numbers, given that his track record completely opposes the kind of job-creating leadership Ohioans are looking for,” Tucker added.
Rob Portman’s real record—opposing the auto industry rescue, calling NAFTA “a proven success”, exploding the deficit during the George W. Bush administration—is spelled out at NoJobsRob.com.
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Ohio Leaders Appalled By Latest Republican Voter Suppression Effort

COLUMBUS- Experts and leaders are calling out the news that Ohio Senate Republicans have inserted an amendment into the Senate version of the Transportation budget that would require residents to obtain an Ohio driver’s license in order to practice their right to vote. Such a measure is legally problematic because it adds a costly new obstacle to voting for, among others, many Ohio college students who happen to be from other states but are already legally permitted to vote in Ohio.

“This is textbook voter suppression from a bygone era,” said former Federal Sixth Circuit Judge Nathaniel Jones, also former general counsel of the NAACP. “A poll tax, tied to a criminal sanction, is the type of cynical obstacle to voting we fought to remove from the books decades ago. It’s a sad day when Ohio Republicans are now aiming such grotesque tactics directly at Ohio’s young voters.”

“We just commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and now our state legislature is attempting to remove a basic American right—the right to vote,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, former Senior Vice President of The Ohio State University. “I hope the legislature will withdraw this unwarranted proposal that smacks in the face of 50 years of progress and could silence hundreds of thousands of student voices.”

Congressman Tim Ryan weighed in on the troubling amendment, saying, “This is a blatant, political and outrageous attempt to suppress young people from voting in Ohio.  Instead of coming up with ideas or more tolerant policies to bring young voters to their side, the Republican legislature knee caps them. So much for them being the party of Lincoln. “

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper called on those Ohio officials who have a responsibility to ensure that Ohio comport with election law to speak out. “Ohio doesn’t need any more costly, losing lawsuits because Republican legislators don’t understand basic Constitutional law. As the elections and legal leaders of Ohio, Secretary of State Husted and Attorney General DeWine should immediately speak out against this blatant and illegal voter suppression.”

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Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Ohio Democratic Party Response to President Obama’s Speech 

CLEVELAND- In response to President Obama’s speech today calling on leaders to support policies that strengthen the middle class, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper released the following statement:

“President Obama’s message today highlighting the importance of building and sustaining a strong middle class is one that sorely needs to be heard by the leaders of our state.  Unlike the President’s focus, Governor Kasich’s most recent budget proposal continues the trickle-down philosophy that is not working for the majority of Ohio families.

“With almost half of Ohioans living one paycheck away from poverty, and wages stagnant for years, it’s time for Ohio policies that strengthen working families.”

While Marching in Selma, Portman Reaffirms Reluctance to Stand Up For Voting Rights

Last weekend, our nation commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, where brave men and women were attacked for marching in support of voting rights.

One hundred members of Congress joined yesterday’s march, and in one of the most powerful moments of his speech, President Obama challenged them to not simply march there, but to restore the Voting Rights Act back in Washington:

“One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.”

Unfortunately, while Ohio Senator Rob Portman was marching, he was not listening.

Think Progress reported, while in Selma, Sen. Portman was asked if he planned to support the proposed fix to the Voting Rights Act that is required due to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 4 of the Act.

His response? “I haven’t looked at it. Is there a Senate version?”

Yes, Senator, there is. But it has no Republican sponsors.

“This day is about more than just tweaks to the Voting Rights Act. This is about ensuring equal justice and learning from the lessons of the past,” Portman continued to Think Process.

ODP Chair of Party Engagement Nina Turner took objection when learning of Sen. Portman’s remarks:

“Actions speak louder than political rhetoric. If Sen. Portman truly believes in equal access to the ballot box, he can take immediate action by pledging to support the VRA Amendment that has been introduced by his Democratic colleagues in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.”

“Unfortunately, research shows a continued increase in voting restrictions across the country, and more often than not they impact America’s minority and low-income populations.”

“We have learned many important lessons from the past; the question is, does Sen. Portman have the courage to stand up and protect our right to vote in the present,” stated Turner.

Along with not supporting the current fix to the Voting Rights Act, Senator Portman has not supported legislation to increase participation in elections including the Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly known as the Motor-Voter legislation.

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Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Ohio Republican Party Launders Money To Fund Shadow Group for Kasich’s Friend and Major Donor

COLUMBUS- Today, the Ohio Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against the Ohio Republican Party for laundering money  by making improper transfers from its taxpayer checkoff funds into accounts designed to cover a party’s overhead expenses to instead pay for Project Ruby and federal accounts to assist Republican candidates for Congress.

The money generated into the tax return checkoff is, by law, prohibited to be used to elect candidates for office.  However, the Ohio Republican Party’s campaign finance reports shows it made transfers from the account to cover the cost of the party’s Project Ruby, which was created by one of Governor Kasich’s longest serving major donors while he was the head of JobsOhio.  Project Ruby, by the Ohio Republican Party’s own admission, is a data program designed to help them turnout votes to influence elections.

In filing today’s complaint, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“This is not a one-time offense. Under Matt Borges, the Ohio Republican Party has done this for at least four months. Taxpayer resources are being used for political gains and to personally enrich Marc Kvamme in yet another way after he made millions from the connections he made during his brief tenure at JobsOhio.”

Ohio Democratic Party Response to Purported OSBA Letter

After French disregards Judicial Code, calls Court “backstop” for Republicans,Republicans hypocritically use State Bar Association to attack O’Donnell

COLUMBUS – Two days ago, the Ohio Supreme Court campaign of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell released its first television ad of the campaign.  The ad references the same criticisms of the Kasich appointee’s short tenure on the court several major Ohio papers have noted in endorsing John P. O’Donnell.

Here’s what leading Ohio papers have said about Justice French:

“[French] ruled for the court majority that the group did not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of Governor Kasich’s JobsOhio, a privatized economic development agency. By not allowing the court to examine whether the state constitution prohibits the state from investing in a private entity, justices denied the taxpayers of Ohio an answer to a legitimate and important question.

“In another case, Ms. French sided with the majority in favor of American Electric Power, deciding the utility could keep more than $350 million of unjustified charges it collected from customers. Before the decision, Ms. French got a campaign contribution of more than $6,000 from the American Electric Power Committee for Responsible Government . . . it does not represent what Ohioans should expect from the supreme arbiters of their laws.”  [Source: Toledo Blade editorial (10/6/2014), “Supreme Justice.”]

After recapping the facts of French’s ruling for AEP and its donations around the time of the decision, the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board noted “the issue of appearances in a state that elects judges matters.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (9/30/2014), “John P. O’Donnell for Ohio Supreme Court.”]

Last evening, the Ohio Republican Party began touting a letter from one of the committees of the OSBA.  The ad highlights donations that Governor Kasich’s appointee took from AEP shortly before and after ruling in its favor in an opinion even the majority conceded was “unfair” to consumers.  [Source: Columbus Business First (2/13/2014), “AEP allowed to keep $368M ‘windfall’ from customers, Supreme Court says, despite ‘unfair’ outcome.”]

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

“This factual ad merely references what multiple papers have noted is very troubling about Governor Kasich’s appointee’s short record on the Court, something that the First Amendment gives Judge O’Donnell the right to highlight information about his opponent that both his campaign and newspapers believe is relevant for voters to know about the race.   We hope the Ohio State Bar Association aggressively addresses Justice French’s comments about keeping the Court a conservative ‘backstop’ to protect the Republican agenda and points out the Ohio Republican Party’s hypocrisy here.”

BACKGROUND

In an opinion written by Justice Scalia, the United States Supreme Court held that rules that prohibit discussion of issue of public interest to the voters as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.  In Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, held that rules that do not permit judicial campaigns to discuss issues of interest of the public in such races are unconstitutional in elected judicial races, including campaign literature that criticizes decisions of the Court.  [Source: Republican Party of Minnesota v. White (2002), 536 U.S. 765.]

French declared her election was about keeping the court “conservative” and a “backstop” for the Republican Party agenda.  This past weekend, Justice French gave pro-Republican remarks while introducing Governor Kasich at GOP fundraiser in Powell.  French talked about her partisanship as a Republican and described her role on the Court as “the backstop for Republican legislation.” French went on to tell the crowd they should vote for her and “keep the Ohio Supreme Court conservative”, so that if Republican legislation is brought to the Court, it is a conservative Court making the decision.   [Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/25/2014), “Justice French: Court the ‘backstop’ for GOP legislation.”]

French has failed to abide by same OSBA’s rules by not denouncing third-party ads. French was Governor Kasich’s appointee to the Ohio Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of Kasich’s signature program, JobsOhio. French has benefitted from “independent expenditures” from American Freedom Builders, a PAC formed by former JobsOhio head Marc Kvamme.  The PAC has ran ads suggesting how she’ll rule on death penalty cases.[Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/25/2014), “Third-party group backing French with TV spots.”]

In 2012, the Ohio Republican Party ignored an OSBA finding that their ad that attacked then Judge O’Neill over a conviction… that was reversed on appeal.  The OSBA “blasted a new commercial financed by the Ohio Republican Party that accuses the challenger of a GOP incumbent Ohio Supreme Court justice of sympathizing with rapists.”  The attack failed to note that the conviction at issue was reversed in an unanimous appellate decision.  But the Ohio GOP refused to pull the ad. [Source: Toledo Blade (10/26/2012), “State bar association chastises Republican Party for Justice campaign ad.”]

O’Donnell Supreme Court Campaign Releases Campaign Ad

After French disregards Judicial Code, calls Court “backstop” for Republicans, ad highlights curiously timed corporate PAC donations

COLUMBUS – Today, the Ohio Supreme Court campaign of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell released its first television ad of the campaign.  The ad highlights donations that Governor Kasich’s appointee took from AEP shortly before and after ruling in its favor in an opinion even the majority conceded was “unfair” to consumers.  [Source: Columbus Business First (2/13/2014), “AEP allowed to keep $368M ‘windfall’ from customers, Supreme Court says, despite ‘unfair’ outcome;” Cleveland Plain Dealer (9/30/2014), “John P. O’Donnell for Ohio Supreme Court;” Toledo Blade editorial (10/6/2014), “Supreme Justice.”]

This past weekend, Justice French gave pro-Republican remarks while introducing Governor Kasich at GOP fundraiser in Powell.  French talked about her partisanship as a Republican and described her role on the Court as “the backstop for Republican legislation.” French went on to tell the crowd they should vote for her and “keep the Ohio Supreme Court conservative”, so that if Republican legislation is brought to the Court, it is a conservative Court making the decision.   [Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/25/2014), “Justice French: Court the ‘backstop’ for GOP legislation.”]

French was Governor Kasich’s appointee to the Ohio Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of Kasich’s signature program, JobsOhio. French has benefitted from “independent expenditures” from American Freedom Builders, a PAC formed by former JobsOhio head Marc Kvamme.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/25/2014), “Third-party group backing French with TV spots.”]

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

“Since being handpicked by Governor Kasich just last year, Justice French has quickly built of reputation of making outrageous partisan remarks and receiving ethically questionable donations that show a disturbing disregard for the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct.  Voters deserve a fair and impartial Supreme Court Justice who will work on behalf of all Ohioans, which is why they’ll elect Judge John P. O’Donnell this November.”

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