Ohio Republicans Failing to Lead in Wake of Charlottesville

COLUMBUS — With Ohio in the spotlight as an “epicenter of hate group activity,” the Republican candidates running to replace Ohio Gov. John Kasich have offered little more than tepid remarks in response to Charlottesville — but more importantly, Attorney General Mike DeWine has offered no leadership in confronting Ohio-based hate groups.

“The Ohio Republican Party’s leading contender for governor, Mike DeWine, wrote more than 700 words for the Columbus Dispatch about Nazis and World War II — and failed to write a single word about Trump and his offensive remarks that drew a moral equivalency between white supremacists and neo-Nazis and the people standing up to these hate groups,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Even worse, DeWine is completely abdicating his own responsibility as the state’s top law enforcement official to do something about the hate groups that are operating here in Ohio. Every group has the right to free speech and peaceful assembly, but the moment they start planning or inciting violence, they should be stopped, and they should feel the full weight of the criminal justice system bearing down on them. As Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine is failing to lead by failing to call out the hate groups in his own backyard. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than a 700-word op-ed.”

The Ohio Democratic Party last week called for action to address the fact that hate groups are disturbingly prevalent in Ohio, with repeated incidents of hate-filled vandalism occurring in communities across the state.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, DeWine’s office “no longer tracks” hate groups. The Ohio Department of Public Safety told WSYX-TV that “the state doesn’t identify hate groups or terrorist organizations.”



DeWine “Declined to Respond to Questions About Trump’s Comments Specifically.” According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “‘There is absolutely no room in our country for racism, bigotry or hate. As the son of a World War II veteran who saw the horrors of Dachau when he arrived there days after it was liberated, I stand strong against any group perpetrating hate.’ – Declined to respond to questions about Trump’s comments specifically.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/17/17]

DeWine Penned an Op-Ed in the Columbus Dispatch Calling on Need to “Stand Up to the White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, And KKK Members Who Divide Us” — Made No Mention of Trump. According to an op-ed by DeWine in the Columbus Dispatch, “White supremacists and neo-Nazis know only hate. It is both incomprehensible and scary to me that there are people in America today who think that discrimination, hate, and bigotry are OK. They’re not. {…}As the son of a soldier who helped liberate Europe, it sickens me that there are people in our country who perpetuate hate. The Allies defeated the forces of fascism. Now, more than 70 years later, we, too, need to stand up to the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members who divide us.” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/21/17]

DeWine’s Office No Longer Tracks Hate Groups in Ohio. According to the Columbus Dispatch, “While both called on Attorney General Mike DeWine to delve into the problem, his office no longer tracks such groups. Since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, that’s been the responsibility of the ‘fusion center’ under the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Attempts to reach officials there or with the State Highway Patrol were unsuccessful.” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/18/17]