We reported earlier today about a number of new legal and ethical problems coming to light in the battle pitting Governor Kasich and his allies and staff against Kevin DeWine and the resources of the Ohio Republican Party.

We’ve discussed the battle in excessive detail already. But this recent influx of complaints and stories about Kasich’s behavior during this intra-party battle is difficult to ignore.

Below is the full text of the ethics complaint about Kasich and his staff that was sent to the Ohio Ethics Commission last week. It’s long – but definitely worth reading…

Paul Nick
Executive Director
William Green Building
30 W. Spring St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215
March 13, 2012

Mr. Nick and Members of the Ohio Ethics Commission:

According to a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch, Portage County Republican Party Chairman Andrew Manning signed an affidavit that states allies of Gov. John Kasich offered him special influence over gubernatorial appointments if he agreed not to run for the state GOP central committee. Gov. Kasich has been trying to take over the panel and replace Kevin DeWine as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

Manning sent the affidavit to state and federal law-enforcement officials asking them to investigate whether laws were broken in efforts to get him to drop out of the committee race.

The pressure applied to Mr. Manning is part of a widespread effort by top advisers to Gov. Kasich to win control of the Central Committee by dangling the promise of lucrative state appointments, threatening to remove members on existing state boards, vowing to hurt a regulated Ohio-based utility and threatening to ruin the reputations of private citizens.

While the Ethics Commission requests that complaints arrive via affidavit, the level of intimidation has witnesses fearful of reprisals. Those fears intensified when Kasich allies attempted to pressure Warren County resident Maggie Cook to withdraw from the race, insisting they could get her fired from her job with Associated Builders and Contractors. When she refused to clear the way for Kasich ally Rebecca Heimlich, ABC fired her.

Ohio’s ethics laws give the commission the power to initiate complaints, investigate them and refer them to the appropriate authorities. Given  the cloud of suspicion surrounding the Kasich-appointed Ohio Inspector General, I am asking this bi-partisan panel to initiate an investigation into the following:

1). Kasich allies threatened to do financial harm to Dayton Power & Light, an investor-owned utility subject to regulation by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, unless Jean Raga dropped out of the Central Committee contest. She is married to DP&L lobbyist Tom Raga, who supports Kevin DeWine’s continued employment as Ohio Republican Party Chairman.  The intimidation included blocking Mr. Raga’s participation in invitation-only meetings in the governor’s office. Mrs. Raga dropped out of the contest on the eve of the election.

John Keaton – Duke
Tom Froehle – AEP
Art Meyer – DPL
Mike Dowling, Chrisy Bowen Wright – FirstEnergy

2). Kasich allies dangled the promise of an appointment to the Ohio Turnpike Commission in an effort to win support from Jeff Dean, a Central Committee member from  Cuyahoga County. He refused to support Kasich’s efforts to unseat DeWine and did not get appointed to the Turnpike Commission.

3).  Jai Chabria, special assistant to the governor,  told Amy Sabath to support Kasich’s efforts to topple Chairman DeWine or lose her seat on the Ohio Lottery Commission and her job as fundraiser for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. She did not back out and did not lose her job with DeWine. Shortly before the vote, Kasich adviser Doug Preisse informed Ms. Sabath that she would be ruining her life and the lives of others unless she stepped aside.

4).  Central Committee member Ebony Grantonz was urged to support efforts to topple DeWine and warned that her husband,Henry Kurtis, would not be reappointed to the Motor Vehicles Dealers Board, unless she said with Kasich allies. She refused; her husband was not reappointed.

Besides the obvious ethical and moral probems with these actions and threats, felonies may have also been committed by those who carried out this intimidation and influence peddling.  The Ohio Revised Code criminalizes bribery and, specifically, offering things of value or other benefits to party officials before elections.  Persons who seek to corrupt a party official or improperly influence the discharge of the official’s duties by offering a valuable thing or benefit to the official is guilty of a felony of the 3rd degree.  R.C. 2921.02.  In addition, persons convicted of bribery are barred for life from holding public office.  Id.  The elections code makes offering influence to a person before a primary election a felony of the 4th degree.  R.C. 3599.01.

I hope you will take a close look at the allegations against the Kasich administration and involve all of the investigatory and law enforcement officials necessary for a thorough and just resolution.