BOMBSHELL REPORT: “Turnover Plagues” Secretary of State’s Office As Frank LaRose Is “Laser-Focused” on Senate Campaign
October 5, 2023
State Employees Detail Disarray In LaRose’s Secretary of State Office As His Campaign Becomes “Sole Focus”
Columbus, OH – A new bombshell report today is detailing how Frank LaRose’s Secretary of State’s Office – which is funded by taxpayer dollars – is “plague[d]” by turnover as the office is “laser-focused” on supporting his campaign for Ohio’s Senate seat. Throughout the report, state employees detail LaRose’s official office in disarray as high turnover rates continue to lead to “more opportunities for mistakes” and a “revolving door” where officials were “often not replaced” while LaRose’s campaign is “the office’s sole focus.”
Since launching his Senate campaign, Frank LaRose has been the center of numerous scandals for putting his political ambitions ahead of Ohioans – mostly recently for moving his official office to the same building as his campaign HQ, costing Ohioans $600,000 and potentially violating Ohio Ethics code in the process. A new report today caught LaRose campaigning from the same building housing his Senate campaign.
LaRose also tied himself to the August election aimed at silencing Ohioans. In the process, LaRose’s office sent the incorrect ballot language out to all 88 county Boards of Elections days before the absentee deadline – a mistake one elections officials anticipated would cost taxpayers “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“This shocking report about turnover and disarray in LaRose’s official office as he campaigns for a promotion just furthers what Ohioans already know: Frank LaRose will do anything to further his political ambitions, no matter how much it hurts – or costs – Ohioans,” said ODP spokesperson Reeves Oyster.
Columbus Dispatch: As Frank LaRose eyes U.S. Senate, turnover plagues Ohio secretary of state’s office
Jessie Balmert and Haley BeMiller
October 4, 2023
- High turnover and low morale have rocked the Ohio secretary of state’s office under Republican Frank LaRose, who has struck an increasingly partisan tone as the state’s election chief amid his bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown next year.
- In recent months, a dozen officials in LaRose’s office who handled elections, communications and other duties have left, taking with them years of experience in running Ohio’s elections. But the staffing problems extend even further, leading to delays and communication problems with local boards of elections.
- Three other former employees say the source of these problems is management laser-focused on electing LaRose as Ohio’s next U.S. senator and unwilling to listen to seasoned election experts. The USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau is not naming the ex-staffers because they fear retaliation.
- LaRose championed the ballot measure, dubbed Issue 1, as local election officials quietly balked at holding an August election less than one year after the Legislature limited most of them.
- As state election officials left, they were often not replaced, leading to more work for the people who remained, former staff said. Without enough staff in the election division, employees from other parts of the office were pressed into service to help with election night reporting or checking petitions for the two November ballot initiatives on reproductive rights and legalizing marijuana.
- The staffing challenges also created more opportunities for mistakes. In June, the secretary of state’s office sent the wrong ballot language to county boards of elections for August’s Issue 1.
- But the first former employee said it could have been avoided if the office had been properly staffed. “We were always just putting out fires,” the employee said. “You’d get one fire put out and you’d look behind you and there were three more fires.”
- To some former employees, the decision to leave ERIC was a symptom of a larger problem: The secretary of state’s office was becoming increasingly political.
- LaRose is running in the 2024 Republican Senate primary against Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno and state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls. The people who used to work for him said that race increasingly became the office’s sole focus.
- “It has been the forefront of everything, whether it was how the office is going to be organized, how the next year and a half are going to go,” the third former employee said. “Everything revolved around the Senate run.”
- The politics of the Senate race also spurred the ouster of LaRose’s former spokesman, Rob Nichols, who worked with Ohio Republicans in Columbus for years. LaRose fired Nichols after his disparaging social media posts about former President Donald Trump surfaced on X, formerly known as Twitter.
- “With an incumbent, the line has always been fuzzy from their official capacity and their running for election,” Birdsong said.
- High turnover at the secretary of state’s office has led to confusion and delays for local election officials, Auglaize County Board of Elections Director Michelle Wilcox said. Without that institutional knowledge at the state level, they have crowdsourced answers across local boards. “It’s to keep our heads above water,” said Wilcox, who is a Democrat. “We feel like we’re drowning.”
- The result, the third employee said, is a revolving door: “There’s a definite lack of humanity, and there’s a hubris to that place that’s insufferable.”
See also: NEW: Frank LaRose Caught Campaigning At Taxpayer Funded Office Amid Growing Scandal; Frank LaRose Working to Silence, Overrule Ohioans: A Trip Down Memory Lane; Ohio Lawmakers Call On Frank LaRose To Answer for Latest Scandal Costing Ohioans; Frank LaRose “Dove Deep Into [His] Bag of Tricks” to Mislead and Overrule Ohioans… Again; ICYMI: “Ethics Red Flags” Go Up as Frank LaRose’s “Ability to Do that Job Impartially Has Been Called into Question” [Ohio Capital Journal]; What Ohioans are Saying: LaRose “Abusing His Position as Secretary of State to Overrule Us”; LaRose’s Math Not Adding Up as Taxpayers Cover Steep Cost to Move Secretary of State Office to His Campaign HQ; “A Slap in the Face:” Frank LaRose Not Working for Ohioans; As Scandal Grows, LaRose’s “Answers” Just Raise More Questions About Steep Cost to Move Secretary of State Office to His Campaign HQ; Frank LaRose Still Owes Ohioans Answers After Latest Scandal Surfaces; A New Scandal For Frank LaRose: Taxpayers Foot Steep Bill to Move Secretary of State Office to Campaign HQ