According to the Dayton Daily News, State Inspector General Thomas Charles will issue his report tomorrow on the Highway Patrol’s decision to cancel a planned tobacco “sting” at the Governor’s Mansion because it was a safety risk and tobacco smuggling is not a criminal act.
Despite these obvious facts, everyone in Columbus (especially the Senate Republicans) are expecting that Charles is going to do a hatchet job on the Administration in order to defend the Patrol.? Charles is ex-Patrol, his wife and son still work in the Patrol, and most, if not all, of his key personnel in his office are all ex-Patrol.? For that reason, observers of Charles has noticed a distinct pattern of sparing the Patrol from criticism, even when warranted:
- “An off-duty trooper clocked at more than 140 mph on an interstate wasn?t ticketed until later.” (Charles concluded that since the officer was eventually charged with speeding, but not reckless operation or street race, there was no harm.)
- “The patrol fired a dozen troopers caught cheating on a certification test needed to administer drunken driving tests.” (Charles blamed the proctors, not the officers)
- Although Charles found evidence that Ohio Highway Patrol officials were involved in the illegal accessing of the State’s criminal database for information about “Joe the Plumber” in 2008, Charles largely spared the Patrol from criticism in his report in ways he didn’t other state agencies.
(The first two were even noted by the DDN today.)
And Charles has ethical questions of his own about his relationship with the Patrol that are raised by this investigation.? Back in September, Gov. Strickland was appointing a new Superintendent of the Ohio Highway Patrol.? Thomas Charles delivered to the Governor’s office this document in which Charles not only recommended to the Governor (an office that Charles holds practically unlimited, unfettered discretion to “investigate” at will), but a proposal to entirely restructure the Highway Patrol.
And who did Charles recommend to the Governor for the appointment? Maj. John Born, the immediate supervisor of Thomas Charles’ wife.? Multiple sources within the Strickland Administration who would have knowledge of events surrounding the Highway Patrol appointment, who spoke on grounds that they’re identity would not be disclosed, have all said that Strickland Chief-of-Staff John Haseley indicated that Charles’ recommendation came unsolicited.? These sources also maintain that its unprecedented for the Office of the Inspector General to give the Governor a recommendation as to appointments outside of his office.? And I don’t think anyone could see the obvious ethical problems it presents.? It’s like having Ken Starr tell Bill Clinton who he should appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court.
I asked Gov. Strickland’s spokeswoman if she could confirm or deny whether this document from Charles had been solicited by John Haseley or anyone else in the Administration, but she declined to comment in an e-mail stating that any such conversations between Mr. Haseley and I.G. Charles were intended to be “private” and that the Administration does not typically discuss details of private meetings.
Around the same time Charles was pushing his wife’s boss for a major promotion, the Ohio State Troopers Association (the union for Patrol officers), issued a letter to the Governor endorsing Capt. David Dicken for the appointment instead.? Most Patrol watchers viewed the Troopers Association endorsement of Dicken as placing him as the front runner for the appointment, especially with a Democratic Governor in office.
Curiously, an investigation by the Inspector General that was opened in August and had seen little to no activity, started to pick up activity.? And before the Governor could make a decision on the Patrol, Charles issued his report in November that (shock!) was highly critical of Capt. David Dicken.
Who watches the watchdog?? Well, certainly not the mainstream media.? Public records from the Governor’s office establishes that Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow has had the documents about Charles’ unprecedented involvement in the appointment and other internal matters involving the Patrol that had nothing to do with Charles’ official authority since January.? Reporters from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal have also requested and received Charles’ document more recently.? None, not one reporter, has though mentioned Charles’ obvious conflict of interest in doing an investigation that largely centers around Patrol Superintendent David Dicken– a man whose appointment Charles opposed to the Governor’s office and then issued a scathing report while the decision about whom to appoint was being made.
Maybe, they’re planning on mentioning it tomorrow to put Charles’ conclusions in context.? We’ll see if they’ll dare question Charles if he attempts to make an incredibly dumb idea to let someone leave an unknown object on the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion for a prison inmate to retrieve in the hopes that such a sting would eventually lead to some evidence of any crime into more than what it was, but so far the mainstream media has refused to really question Charles’ credibility on these issues.
But somebody needed to point this out.
Who watches the watchdog?? Please let it be more than me.