COLUMBUS — Facing one of the nation’s 10 most competitive or “likely to flip” races for governor (NBC News #9, Politico #8, Washington Post #9), Mike DeWine is emerging from his “nasty” and “savage” “slugfest” primary having spent millions on attack ads, but having done “everything in his power to avoid a debate with his opponent” or “discuss some controversial issues.”
Here are six questions for DeWine to stop ducking and finally answer:
1. Now that we know the FBI is looking into the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and campaign contributions linked to the failed e-charter school — why has DeWine neglected to investigate ECOT for years, despite published reports that the school “was cooking its attendance books”?
- The ECOT scandal — also known as “Chartergate” — has cost Ohio taxpayers at least $80 million over the past two years, and it could be hundreds of millions more. However, Ohio’s “top cop” has yet to investigate or look back at past years. In addition, he’s done little to collect the millions that Ohio taxpayers are owed.
- After Democrats called for a criminal investigation — and more than a year after a whistleblower met with his office — the state auditor yesterday finally released his audit of ECOT and referred the matter to federal investigators and the county prosecutor’s office for possible criminal charges.
2. How does DeWine plan to deal with the fallout of 700,000 people losing health coverage, including 200,000 people who rely on it for mental and drug addiction, in the midst of Ohio’s opioid epidemic?
- DeWine ran television ads attacking Gov. John Kasich’s number two — Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor — for supporting the expansion.
- At a Cleveland.com editorial board meeting, DeWine said Medicaid expansion “will not exist as we know it today” if he were elected governor.
- DeWine’s refusal to stand up for Kasich’s Medicaid expansion jeopardizes the health coverage of 700,000 Ohioans and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to combat Ohio’s opioid crisis.
3. How has he explained his position to end Medicaid expansion to Kasich, who said he was concerned about making “sure that no Ohioan is left behind”?
4. When asked about what he’s done to fight the opioid crisis, DeWine claimed, “There’s a lot of things I frankly can’t do as the attorney general.” What would he have changed about Kasich’s response to the crisis?
- Unintentional opioid overdose deaths tripled during DeWine’s tenure as AG — rising from 1,163 in 2011 to 3,630 in 2017.
- County officials are worried about “suspected drug dealers being on the street” because of a testing backlog at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation labs that DeWine oversees.
5. Will DeWine recuse himself from any state investigation into the activities of disgraced former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger?
- DeWine faced bipartisan criticism for his inappropriate private phone call to Rosenberger made amidst reports that the FBI was looking into Rosenberger’s foreign travel with lobbyists.
- Rosenberger was a high-profile surrogate and ally of the DeWine-Husted campaign whose endorsement was highlighted on social media and in online videos.
- Lawmakers have called for an independent investigation into why Rosenberger resigned his post as House Speaker. DeWine’s ties to Rosenberger make him incapable of conducting an impartial investigation.
6. Will Donald Trump campaign for DeWine (besides offering misspelled tweets)?
- Cleveland.com pointed out that DeWine and his primary opponent “stopped just short of spray tanning themselves orange in trying to grab Trump’s coattails while not tripping over his long red tie.”
- Despite bear-hugging Trump in television ads, DeWine has yet to appear in public with the president and leader of his party. DeWine has still not explained why he skipped Trump’s March rally in Richfield.
- Voters deserve to know if DeWine’s embrace of Trump was merely a ploy to trick Trump loyalists into picking him over Taylor.