If you review the recent history of Thomas Charles’ reports as the Ohio Inspector General regarding the Ohio Highway Patrol, you see a rather telling pattern that can be divided by one event: when Governor Strickland was considering the appointment of Col. David Dicken to be the Superintendent of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
Before Dicken, a high number of Inspector General reports involving the Ohio Highway Patrol went incredibly light on the Patrol. For example, the OIG downplayed any wrongdoing by the Patrol:
- when the Patrol issued no speeding tickets, reckless operation, or street racing tickets immediately after pulling over an off-duty trooper doing 140 m.p.h. on a motorcycle on a busy interstate near Columbus (Charles concluded that since a speeding ticket was eventually issued days after the stop and only shortly before reports about it surfaced in the media, there still was no wrongdoing.);
- when several Patrol officers were found in widespread cheating on a test they need to pass in order to be certified to administer drunk driving tests. Charles blamed the proctors of the exam, and not the cheating patrol officers; and
- when employees of the Ohio Highway Patrol were found to have illegally and improperly searched their databases for information about “Joe the Plumber,” but his report largely spared the Patrol for the same criticisms he made of other agencies who had done the same thing.
Charles did conduct an investigation that led to the retirement of the Superintendent, but then he did the unprecedented act of telling the Governor, in writing, whom within the Patrol he believed the Governor should appoint as his replacement. Charles recommended Maj. Dan Born, who just happened to be the direct supervisor of Charles’ wife in the Patrol.
Charles then immediately went to quickly conclude a pending investigation of the Patrol in his office. An investigation, which not surprisingly, came down hard on Born’s chief rival for the position, then-Capt. David Dicken—whom Strickland wound up appointing despite Charles’ negative report about him.
Since Dicken’s appointment, Charles has taken a noted and consistent take on the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s (ODPS)relationship with the Ohio Highway Patrol—a subservient agency within the ODPS. Suddenly, Charles began complaining about too much “civilian” involvement and control over the Patrol—never mind that then ODPS Acting Director Cathy Collins-Taylor was a former uniformed police officer with the Columbus Police Department. Charles began criticizing ODPS and Dicken, but still leaving the rest of the Patrol largely unscathed.
This all culminated in the “Troopergate” investigation in which Charles’ the legal and factual errors piled up so much it consumed this blog for nearly six months and even got widespread notice by the Ohio mainstream media who found themselves, for the first time, questioning the validity of Charles’ investigation and his motives.
Charles pointedly alleged that Cathy Collins-Taylor and Dicken committed perjury and lied to obstruct his investigation. Criminal allegations that got a lot of attention thanks to political hacks like Senator Tim Grendell who were more than happy to abuse the State Senate in order to help get Kasich elected and the Columbus Dispatch Publishing Company that used both its television networks and newspaper to hype the story non-stop all year because its owners, the Wolfe family, were personal acquaintances and major political supporters of John Kasich. Yet despite the hype, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien (R) announced, after the elections, that there was simply insufficient evidence to pursue any criminal charges based on Charles’ accusations.
But it was either that or conclude that his good friend, (Ret.) Maj. Booker, lied instead about the raid on the Governor’s Mansion over potentially the entire legal act of tobacco “smuggling” was not cancelled for lack of a crime or the potential risks to others, including the Governor whom the Patrol is entrusted to protect, but political considerations.
Remember this is the same Maj. Booker who testified to the Senate Committee (we believe under oath) that there was “no doubt” the item would be drugs, even though reports and documents at the time demonstrates there was already considerable doubt, and even Charles himself failed to make such a conclusion in his own investigation. This is the same Maj. Booker who allowed the subject of an internal affairs investigation access to the investigatory file before she was interviewed by investigators.
Why is that important?
Because just a few days ago, Thomas Charles’ office issued yet another report about the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Highway Patrol. A report that was concluded while Charles was in discussions with Governor-elect Kasich about taking over the agency. The report found that allegations that the top brass (including Col. Dicken) attempted to cover up or hinder a criminal investigation of a friend of the Lt. Col. Peyton Watts, the uniformed second-in-command of the Patrol.
While the report concludes that any such allegations were totally unfounded, the report nonetheless criticizes Col. Dicken’s handling of the situation. Charles criticizes Watts for talking to the subject of the internal/criminal investigation, although Charles concedes there’s no evidence those conversations did anything to impede or reveal to the subject any of the investigation, unlike in the situation with Maj. Booker.
Where’s the questions about the wisdom and ethics of Charles doing an investigation of an agency he’s planning to lead? Where are the questions that Charles’ reports seem to be designed to lay the groundwork to do what even the Dispatch admits has never been done in a change of Administrations: change the head of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
And just who do you think Charles will ask Kasich to appoint?