On April 1st, we reported that the FBI was investigating Kasich and his allies for using threats, intimidation and promises of influence during their take over of the State Central Committee. Yesterday – 48 days later – someone finally went on the record. In an email, Andrew Manning’s attorney confirmed the FBI investigation, and we broke the story.
[Joseph pats himself on the back]
But that’s nothing, really.
It took 56 days for anyone to confirm the story we posted on March 23th. That post included the full text of a complaint filed with the Ohio Ethics Commission claiming John Kasich and his allies threatened Republican State Central Committee member Maggie Cook, warning her to to withdraw from the race making way for Kasich ally Rebecca Heimlich, or risk losing her job with Associated Builders and Contractors. When Cook refused, ABC fired her.
No one else published her story, or the stories of the multiple other people included in the ethics complaint, until yesterday when the Plain Dealer’s Reggie Fields finally confirmed Cook’s story of intimidation and firing. Unfortunately the Cook story was thrown in at the end of his article. The editor-written headline didn’t mention her at all. And they effectively buried the whole thing on the last page before the obits. But at least they published it. Which is more than I can say for the Dispatch, who continues to sit on this story.
Listen, I completely understand that the Dispatch has their own interests to look after. They have great access to Kasich and his people, often getting exclusive first dibs on stories. And that access comes at a cost. But this information is out there, and it has been for months. And any serious news organization ignoring it is doing a disservice to their readers.
In case maybe they missed my original post, or lost the email I know they received containing the same information, I’ll republish it below as a reminder:
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.