First, the only encouraging signs out of the entire Tobaccogate nonsense came entirely unexpected today. The Columbus Dispatch has been in the pocket of Thomas Charles and the other Tobaccogate players that tried to inflate a tobacco smuggling operation by inmates working at the Governor’s Mansion into a ridiculous “conspiracy” theory that alleged, but could never prove, actual criminal conduct involving drugs, obstruction of justice, and perjury.
Today, the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the new Ohio Inspector General, Randy Myer, who worked as an investigator in former State Auditor Mary Taylor’s office, has informed “at least half” of the staff that they are being fired by Myer. I have little doubt that the “sources” that told the Dispatch this were the same “sources” that seemed to be responsible for Thomas Charles’ office leaking like a sieve last year… the employees themselves.
Thomas Charles was appointed to be the new Director of Public Safety and took a number of personnel with him, but left plenty behind. Despite issuing a factually and legally flawed investigatory report that Charles issued and then belated admitted he had a conflict in office in issuing such a report, Charles was appointed to a Cabinet-level position in which he likely received a raise. Charles, apparently, was caught completely flat-footed for this development:
The dismissals are unusual in an office that’s supposed to be insulated from political considerations.
Charles said he didn’t have solid information about the firings in his former office. A Kasich spokesman said he didn’t have information, either, since the inspector general’s office is independently run.
Note that the Dispatch actually tries to insinuate that political considerations are somehow behind these firings, even though both Charles and Myer are Republican appointees. This is the same Dispatch that applauded the political considerations behind the Senate’s unprecedented rejection of a high number of Strickland’s appointees for no other reason than to allow an incoming Republican Administration make them instead. The same Dispatch who has said nothing about the political sacking in the Lottery Commission or Film Commission offices. The same Dispatch that hasn’t offered a critical eye to single Kasich appointment to date.
But touch one of Thomas Charles’ ex-Patrol folks and suddenly, the Dispatch suggests there’s something unseeingly political at play. At least one source that asked to speak to Plunderbund anonymously but familiar with the situation has told us that the entire staff at the Inspector General’s office (at least what was left after a number left with Charles to go to Public Safety) was sacked.
Regardless of whether it was half or the entire staff, this development cannot be seen as anything other than a repudiation of Thomas Charles’ staff as the flawed, biased investigators we pointed out time after time again, including what appeared to be a pro-Highway Patrol bias in its investigations. If the current Inspector General had confidence in them, this unexpected sacking would not have occurred.
A cynical view is that Kasich engineered a two-fer. He had to recognize that Charles was a loose and dangerous cannon if he stayed at the Ohio Inspector General, but he couldn’t get rid of him after the Tobaccogate story. So, he lets Charles move over to Public Safety where he has his own political fiefdom and do what he wants (including appointing Born to Superintendent of the Highway Patrol) to keep him happy, but putting him somewhere where he’s unlikely to harm the Administration if things go south. Then Kasich puts in a Taylor staffer into the I.G’s office to guarantee that Charles’ replacement is unlikely to cause Kasich’s Administration any headaches. Again that’s a cynical view. But both require either a recognition by Myer or even Kasich that substantial changes needed to be made to the Inspector General’s office given Charles’ reckless ways.
But sadly, not all the news reverberating from Tobaccogate has been good news. More than one source has informed us that Tobaccogate figure who was in the process of retiring from the Patrol when Tobaccogate occurred that formerly retired Major Booker was hired back to the Ohio Highway Patrol by Tom Charles to be head of the Patrol’s investigatory office regarding food stamps and liquor permits. The same Maj. Booker who, if he was under oath when he testified to the Senate committee about Tobaccogate committed perjury by testifying there was “no doubt that the item to be dropped at the Governor’s Residence was drugs.” The same Booker who compromised an internal Patrol investigation by giving his friend access to the investigator’s file before she was interviewed by the investigator.
Yep, he’s back to the Patrol. He gets a gig back in the Patrol after lying to the State Senate and being revealed to have compromised prior Patrol investigations. So, naturally, Thomas Charles puts him in charge of investigations.