We did a LOT of research after the Mecklenborg scandal broke. And a good deal of the information is still confusing the hell out of us.

We already know that on April 23rd, 2011, Ohio State Representative Robert Mecklenborg was driving around Indiana with temp tags from Kentucky and a stripper (also from Kentucky) in his car. And according to official state records, he was legally drunk and had viagra in his system at the time. That’s all pretty clear.

But other records related to his official duties back here in Ohio still don’t make a lot of sense.

According to House Journals, Mecklenborg only showed up to vote in Columbus for 4 days in April: the 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th.

But according to records obtained by Plunderbund, he was reimbursed for travel from his home district to Columbus for the weeks of April 3rd through the 16th AND for the week of the 24th through the 30th. While he didn’t ask for reimbursement for the week he was arrested – he did get reimbursed for the following week, even though no votes were taking place.

More interesting is the fact that BMV records show that Mecklenborg’s Ohio driver licence expired on April 1st and he didn’t renew it until the 27th – 5 days after he was arrested in Indiana. Which means he was reimbursed for 18 days of travel from his home near Cincinnati to Columbus during the time his license was expired. And on one of those days he actually parked in the state house garage.

So was he actually in town during the weeks he was reimbursed for travel? And if he was in town, why wasn’t he parking at his office? Was he driving himself to Columbus on an expired license? Was he driving his own car when he parked at the state house garage on the 7th?

Here’s a chart of the events by day:

And here’s a copy of the records mentioned above:

I honestly can’t provide a good answer as to how Mecklenborg was getting around during the time between when his license expired until the day he renewed it by lying on the application. We know he was driving in Indiana on an expired license and with temp plates from Kentucky on his car. We know he was on recess from the house. But what we’re lacking here is a good, solid way to tie everything together.

Can you help?

Put your best ideas about what Meck was doing during April in the comments below. Best, most creative way of typing everything together gets a PB t-shirt from our next batch on me!

 
  • Anonymous

    Mecklenborg is a dead horse.  I wouldn’t hazard a guess on what he was up to; he’s not worth the time.  What I want to know is what kind of skeletons Kasich has buried in his basement?  We have so many tantalizing clues and leads to follow, but they all end up in a cul-de-sac.  Kasich is the ghoul that needs to be nailed down.

  • Anonymous

    He’s a Republican. Things don’t have t make sense. And he’s gone. Can’t we get something on Batchelder instead?

  • Annekarina

    Joseph, it is not a good idea to beat a dead horse and get a good thing going here in trouble.  The man is gone, let it be.  If you have reason to believe and proof to the facts that tax payer money ought to be repaid to taxpayers then go for it with facts but drop the story telling.  That will get the blog in trouble and it is not worth the lawsuit.  Or a T shirt.

  • I understand your point, but as of today he’s still in office.

  • Moreover, as a blog I feel like it’s our job to present all of the information – even if we can’t associate it with a specific outcome or assign it to a narrative every time.

    Everything in this post is a fact – and I think it helps provide a better understanding of what was going on during the month that led up to Mecklenborg’s arrest even if I can’t tie all the pieces together.

    Also, we have an amazing set of reader with experiences, skills and knowledge far beyond that of the few authors we have here at PB.  Some of our best tips and most productive ideas come from you/them.  I’m not above asking for help.   And if it cost me a t-shirt in the process, so be it. 

  • Ldastro

    The padding of travel reimbursment by the GA is widespread. Gillmor was accused and exhonorated for the same thing. Rumor mill has it she was found innocent because they all do it. Talk about wasting taxpayer money.

  • Annekarina

    Didn’t Batch request his resignation for something like the end of the month, first of September?  If you have a point, make it.  Speculation will get you nowhere except the case of asking for problems.  This is not a game, Joseph. This is only one congress critter that apparently needs to go.  Jordon may be another unless we really think someone who apparently abuses his wife is fit to assist in making decisions for the state of Ohio and then there is that apparent problem of another state legislative critter driving under apparent influence with children in his vehicle.  Judgement is easy to call, but we all have problems.  However, those making laws MUST be held to a higher calling and need to make the mark.  Otherwise, as we can see, the people suffer.  Let’s not attempt to make this into a game.  The state business appears to have been run as a game for too long.  Look where it has gotten us.  Everyone happy?

  • Dandelphina

    typically on a dui case, the defendant is placed under an administrative licence suspension where there is a hard time suspension and no driving privileges are allowed until the court grants a driving permit.  I would check  the garage records to see if his car was in the garage during the time period he had no privileges which is likely.  thanks

  • Annekarina

    Did you Joseph?  Run this post past Modern? 

  • Yes, I am well aware that legislators typically get their mileage reimbursements regardless of whether they voted or attended session.   I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

    I am also aware that it is illegal to drive in Ohio if your license is expired.

  • Modern Esquire

    I’m flattered that you think I could make heads or tails of it, but Joseph did talk to me about it, and I’m stumped.

    Maybe we have inaccurate records, but the parking pass records and the reimbursements make no sense when viewed in comparison.  I’m more than a decade removed from my brief stint in the Statehouse, so we were hoping one of our readers (ahem Statehouse employees) could give us some insight.

    Maybe there’s nothing there, but it seems difficult to piece together how a person could get reimbursed for travel when there appears to be no evidence that there’s been any travel.

    Remember this is what instigated an Inspector General investigation into Frankie Coleman when she worked in the Ohio Department of Development.

    Oh, and the Mecklenborg thing isn’t quite over… I’ll have more information on that tonight.

  • Hi Mysterious,

    We don’t accept advertising money from Crossroads. We accept it from Google, who runs the ads for them. We can block them, but it’s tedious to block every ad we don’t agree with from Google.

    What we recommend is you and our other loyal readers encourage as many progressive organizations and campaigns to advertise on PB directly (email to eric@plunderbund.com). If they did, we wouldn’t have any Google ads at all. They’re filler and we don’t control the content. We do choose to block some from time to time.

    Thanks for looking out!

  • Anonymous

    I have a suggestion.  If you are looking for information on Batchelder or any Republican, you might want to check out the various county municipal court websites (Franklin County Municipal Court, Delaware County Municipal Court, etc.). (Hint: I’m not mentioning any names!)  Which public officials have been in the news lately?  Which counties do they travel through to get to the statehouse?  Make sure that the D.O.B. (date of birth) and home address accurately match up to the name you want.  If Mecklenborg hasn’t resigned yet, he is still a public figure.

  • Annekarina

    That is what I am waiting for, Modern.  Something that makes sense.  Not speculation.  Though speculation backed by facts makes it fact.

  • Ldastro

    Her kids are even enrolled in the Dublin School system but she still got to claim miles. We need to stop it all.

    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/12/16/gillmor-residency-status-upheld.html

  • Ldastro

    Her kids are even enrolled in the Dublin School system but she still got to claim miles. We need to stop it all.

    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/12/16/gillmor-residency-status-upheld.html

  • Guest

    Why isn’t the fact the the GA authorized travel reimbursement when no travel actually occurs its own scandal?  How is this different from the House checking account a number of years ago?

  • Guest

    Why isn’t the fact the the GA authorized travel reimbursement when no travel actually occurs its own scandal?  How is this different from the House checking account a number of years ago?

  • Jms

    Coulda fooled me.  Apparently not as well aware as you think you are.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that Mecklenborg is still a menace to decent society; I just think Kasich and the pirates are the more immediate threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the citizens of Ohio.  When the job is done, you walk away (rule 11).

  • Modern Esquire

    Yes, it’s rough for us knowing that every time some reader on our site clicks through the ad, we’re getting money from Karl Rove.  Every click is just more Karl Rove money backing Plunderbund….

    Mumble, mumble, briar patch…. don’t throw us there….

  • Modern Esquire

    Thanks, Josh.  This is the kind of explanation we were seeking..

  • Josh

    And as a follow-up, I don’t believe the House/Senate Clerks Offices really require any evidence of travel. It’s basically (and this is just an assumption here…I did not work in the Clerk’s office, so I don’t know what their protocol is) on the honors system. Legislators initial the weeks that they traveled to Columbus (on the sheet that Joseph posted), and then they are reimbursed each quarter for the number of trips they took. I suppose if someone wanted to challenge a legislator’s mileage reimbursement, and whether or not they are entitled to it, the legislator could show their schedule for the week in question to prove that they did in fact come to town for official business.

  • Ohiofivers

    Okay here’s how it all happened:

    Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator and vanished.

    He awoke to find himself trapped in 2011 facing a terrible mirror image that was Bob Mecklenborg’s and driven by an unknown force to attack women’s rights, worker’s rights, claim to be a good Catholic and pick up “…girl I met…”

    His only guide on this journey is AL cohol and Viagra sinful vices from his own time who appears in the form of liquid and pills that only Sam can drink and eat.

    And so Dr. Beckett finds himself trapped in the body of a broken politically ruined man; striving to destroy the State of Ohio and hoping that with each Bill, he will be able to leap out of this hypocritical, vile, liar of a lawyer from Ohio.

    So you see, if you apply the Quantum Leap theory, Mecklenborg could have done all of this and had no memory of any of it as his body was occupied by a time traveler.

    If anyone has Bobby’s number I would like it.  I am not a lawyer but I have seen every episode of Quantum Leap so I would be happy to represent this position in court….for a fee of course. 

    What’s he got to lose?  We have all seen the cruiser cam!

  • Delco Dem

    I agree.  I thought R.C. 101.27 actually requires the legislator to show up in Columbus to receive reimbursement.  It doesn’t look like he stopped into the office very many times in that three month period.  Nor does it look like he bothered showing up to the office for the entire month of June- during deliberations on the budget bill.  

  • Darth Fredder

    Holy shit!  Bob Mecklenborg rode with Lou Blessing from the condo to the Statehouse!*  What is this world coming to?  Legislators in the car with other legislators!  Call JLEC!

    *I don’t know if they are roommates or whether they actually have a condo in town, but there are a million lawful ways you can get to the Statehouse without driving your own vehicle.

    All my ads are about shocking meat videos.  They make me hungry.

  • buckeyekelly

    This is where I would like more information – what is the mileage reimbursement procedures for statehouse officials? As a state employee, I have to jump through hoop after hoop to get my mileage if I travel from campus to downtown for a meeting. Proof of who was at the meeting, when it was planned, who approved the meeting, why I didn’t request part of the state fleet to use instead, proof of my insurance and license that are both vaild, beginning mileage, ending mileage, complete with a map showing the mileage is legit. Then my supervisor and fiscal officers need to approve it.

    I bring this up because Mecklenberg and the rest of the holier-than-thou GOP keep beating the deadbeat state employees taking all our money drum. They also keep complaining that teachers get “paid” for summers or holidays that they don’t work. But no outrage for something like this. I’m fully aware that in such an explanation of the rules and ethics of reimbursement and salaries of our state reps/senators could gather democrats or just good people (regardless of party) in the net, but fair’s fair.

  • Josh

    Like I said in my previous post, the process for legislator reimbursement is fairly simple. All they do is initial the weeks that they were in Columbus for state business (the sheets are printed for each quarter), and at the end of the quarter, those sheets are turned in to the Clerks’ offices. The clerks have, on file, the “exact” mileage from each legislator’s home to the Statehouse, and whatever amount the legislator is owed for reimbursement is distributed each quarter. I’m not sure if it comes on their normal paycheck or if there is a separate check.

    I think the reason that it is much easier for a legislator to get reimbursed than it is for rank-and-file state employees is because the legislators are SUPPOSED to travel to Columbus for their job. They cannot do their job if they cannot travel to the capital. On the other hand, while some state employees may travel a lot for their work, it’s likely not an essential part of the day-to-day work for most.

    Could the current system be easily abused? Probably. However, I think 99% of members are honest about it (Gillmor being an exception…). If it starts to look suspicious, with a legislator claiming that they went to Columbus every week through the summer, that would probably raise some red flags. But as I see it, I don’t think there’s a problem with the current system.

  • Babyblue

    As a former legislative aide, I can tell you that some members will allow their aide to park in the garage for free while they pay to park in another garage. This happened with me a lot which is nice because it’s expensive to park around the Statehouse. Maybe Mecklenborg has a soft side!

    Also, since he is Chair of a committee, there are a lot of people who want to meet with him. AND with his voter id bill under works during that time, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was working on it with his staff and interested parties during the weeks there were no votes.

    So sorry, I think that takes some mystery out of your story.

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