The problem with the Senate Republicans who may want to make political hay out of today’s report by the Inspector General is that they cannot hammer the Director of Public Safety without first dealing with the obvious perjury that was committed by (Ret.) Maj. Booker, Cpt. Henderson, and former Superintendent Richard Collins, especially in light of the new information offered in the Inspector General’s report.
You’ll recall that both Booker and Henderson testified, under oath, that there was “no doubt” that the alleged contraband would be drugs, but both public documents I’ve shown on our site and the Inspector General’s report found out that the conclusion that the item might be drugs was really just speculation, really unfounded speculation.
Charles investigation found even more documents which expressed doubts, even by those pushing for the sting, that the item was drugs. As discussed in my previous reports, Capt. Henderson’s e-mail at the time said the plan was to allow the item to be dropped and then seize it to determine if it was “drugs or other contraband.” This inherently contradicts Henderson’s own sworn testimony that there was “no doubt” that the item was drugs. The committee apparently did not have access to this e-mail, or else they simply failed to confront Henderson on this seemingly contradictory evidence.
Even worse for Henderson and Booker, the I.G.’s reported details in levels not previously reported by anyone the extent and physical evidence that existed PRIOR to the planned sting that demonstrated that tobacco smuggling was a problem with the inmates working at the Governor’s Mansion. Despite a thorough review, the I.G. could not find any evidence that drugs were ever smuggled by the inmates at the Governor’s Mansion.
The Inspector General, despite conducting a thorough investigation, cannot state conclusively that the item even was likely drugs. Booker was in an interesting position as he was the supervisor of both the OIC (the office investigating the tobacco plot) and the office within the Patrol that handles security at the Mansion. Therefore, a key issue remains how Booker could have possibly testified that there was “no doubt” that the item would be drugs given the number of prior incidents at the mansion dealing with tobacco. The I.G. specifically criticizes the head of the Governor’s protection details over the level of tobacco smuggling that was going on before, during, and since the planned bust. It’s hard to read that and think… these guys really had a reason to believe it was drugs, and not the stuff that was literally falling from the ceiling.
The report also seemingly contradicts other aspects of Booker’s Senate committee testimony. Booker testified that Dicken supported the plan, but the I.G. report concludes that Booker was insubordinate to Dicken, could not satisfactorily answer basic and appropriate questions by Dicken, and resisted giving information because he already was alleging interference by Markus and Haseley, interference the I.G. concluded never happened. That would seemingly contradict Booker’s testimony in another key area.
Of course, that’s not to say there are not major flaws in the Inspector General’s report that calls into question the validity of its analysis. For example, nowhere in the I.G.’s report does it acknowledge that tobacco smuggling is not a crime, and that, and not political considerations, was a reason to cancel the sting. Instead, we are left with a political “cover up” to stop a criminal investigation that involved no crime. True to his form as a Patrol apologist, Charles never once considers the possibility that someone in the Patrol pushed for a sting even though the item likely did not constitute a crime specifically to embarass the Governor, thus making such political considerations by the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety entirely appropriate.
After all, the Inspector General’s report does not explain why Booker was justified in being so tight lipped to his superior officer to the point of being insubordinate (as Charles himself concluded), why Booker seems so quick to allege that questions about his operation were “politically motivated” by the Governor’s office (which Charles concluded was not the case at all, but reasonable questions), or how a sting that was largely only known to a select number of officers in the Highway Patrol was leaked to media and presented as a “drug” bust being thwarted despite the enormous amount of evidence contrary.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to see Henderson’s and Booker’s false testimony as nothing more than a continuation of a scheme to achieve that which those very same officers sought to achieve in having a sting involving tobacco in the first place– to embarass the Governor over the honor inmate program as much as possible. After all, why would these career officers lie over something so easily disproven unless they expected nobody would dare question their veracity?
In the end, we’re left with a “cover up” in order to prevent an illegal investigation of non-criminal conduct whose only purpose would be to politically embarrass a Governor. To conclude otherwise requires a dismissal of the very evidence of prior incidents involving tobacco at the Mansion that the I.G. report details in full.
Another flaw in Charles’ report is that he asserts that the legislature is silent as to whether the Director of Public Safety has legal authority to approve or otherwise influence investigations of agencies within the DPS such as the Highway Patrol.
Inspector General Charles, allow me to introduce you to the Ohio Revised Code:
“The director of the department of public safety is the chief executive and administrative officer of the department. The director may establish policies governing the department, the performance of its employees and officers, the conduct of its business, and the custody, use, and preservation of departmental records, papers, books, documents, and property. The director also may authorize and approve investigations to be conducted by any of the department’s divisions. Whenever the Revised Code imposes a duty upon or requires an action of the department, the director may perform the action or duty in the name of the department or direct such performance to be performed by the director’s designee.” R.C. 5501.011(B). (emphasis added.)
Charles claims the state legislature is silent as to whether the Director had any authority to approve the OSP’s investigation at the Governor’s Mansion, even though a statute captions “Duties of director” specifically states its one of her duties. Charles’ legal error is not just a simple oversight. He needed to suggest that there was no legal authority for the Cathy Collins-Taylor to do what she did, otherwise he could not allege a “cover up.”
Another flaw in Charles’ report is that he claims that the decision to conduct a knock and talk was “unprecedented”. In a footnote, Charles attempts to get around my specific observation that something which law enforcement has a term of art cannot be, by definition, be unprecedented by suggesting that how the knock and talk was different. However, as this blog already has shown, public records show that Booker’s own office conducted similar knock and talks to people suspected of smuggling specific drugs in state prisons before.
While I’m sure there are other flaws in Charles’ report, these are the ones that are readily apparent. However, a bigger problem is that three of the individuals who testified under oath to the State Senate who alleged that there was “no doubt” that the item was drug or other matters clearly lied under oath and much of what they alleged are directly contradicted by the evidence and findings of today’s report.
Grendell is not going to be able to conduct further hearings without, at some point, addressing the perjury by Booker and Henderson. Otherwise, his hearings can rightfully be dismissed as nothing more than a political show trial.
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