The Ohio Inspector General’s Office released a report this week that attempts to clear members of Kasich’s staff of accusations that arose during Kasich’s battle with Kevin DeWine for control of the Ohio Republican Party. The very narrowly focused investigation excludes many important source of information that are vital to understanding the facts in this case, while focusing exclusively on Governor’s Office regional liaisons Sherri Carbo, Nicholas Gatz and Nicole Kostura and the hours they spent helping to get Kasich’s candidates on the ballot for Central Committee.
The IG’s office concluded they could find no evidence the three Kasich staffers performed political work on state time, though the investigation leaves a lot of questions unanswered and relies almost completely on interviews with the liaisons while failing to look at key documents like emails and phone records that are necessary to back up their claims. Investigators also failed to thoroughly investigate the Kasich staffer, David Luketic, who asked all of the liaisons to take on political tasks in addition to their state jobs, and they failed to address any of the many other related complaints made against Kasich and his team during the Central Committee battle.
All six of Kasich’s regional liaisons admitted that 28 year old Kasich staffer Dave “Luketic had asked them to assist any candidates needing help circulating or filing their petitions.” Even though none of the liaisons reported to Luketic, they all did as he asked.
Luketic was described as “the point man” and a “political operative” by the interviewees, however investigators never interviewed him during their investigation. The investigators never looked at his schedule. They never looked at his phone records to see who he was calling and when.
Instead, the investigators simply seem to rely on statements from the liaisons who insist Luketic was on leave from the Governor’s office when he called them, and the call all happened after hours, even though they can’t always seem to remember the content of the calls or if they even happened.
For example, Sherri “Carbo could not recall if… David Luketic told her that Heimlich was struggling to collect the needed signatures” but she seems absolutely certain “telephone calls received from Luketic were after work hours to her personal cell phone, and sometimes on Sunday evenings.”
Investigators should have started the investigation by reviewing the emails and phone records, public and private, of both Luketic and Carbo to verify her claims. But none of those documents appear on the list of evidence collected by the investigators even though the IG has the ability to subpoena them.
And while the IG claims this investigation was sparked by news reports of Carbo and the others doing political work on state time, they fail to follow up on the many other related media reports with much more serious claims.
Carbo, for example, was collecting signatures for Rebecca Heimlich, a close ally of Kasich and the former head of Americans for Prosperity in Ohio. But the IG’s office never bothered to interview Heimlich or, more importantly, the woman who was supposedly fired from her job after refusing to drop out of the Central Committee race to allow Heimlich to run.
According to a complaint filed with the Ohio Ethics Commission: “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.”
Luketic’s name was also mentioned in another complaint filed with the FBI by Portage County Republican Party Chairman Andrew Manning, who claims he was under “relentless pressure” from Luketic to drop out of the Central Committee race so a Kasich-friendly candidate could take his place. Luketic promised Manning he would be “designated as the ‘Governor’s Guy’ in Portage County” and “would be given influence” if he played along.
Again, Luketic was never interviewed for this investigation and none of his schedules, emails or phone records were reviewed by investigators.
For his work as the “point man” on Team Kasich’s take over of the Central Committee, Dave Luketic was promoted to Political Director for the Ohio Republican Party.
If you are wondering why Ohio’s Inspector General, Randy Meyer, was not more thorough in his investigation then you obviously haven’t been reading Plunderbund for the past year or so. Meyer was appointed by Kasich, he used to work for LG Mary Taylor and he is a trusted Republican with political ambitions of his own.
And Randy isn’t shy about showing his true colors. Not only did he hire Kasich-loyalist Jo Ann Davidson’s son-in-law Carl Enslen as his Deputy IG, he’s also been attending Republican party fundraisers. Not exactly the type of non-partisan behavior you’d expect from a guy whose job it is to keep Ohio’s all-Republican statewide office holders honest.
IG investigations are about holding people to certain facts and building an investigation off those facts. This report does neither. It appears to be amateur hour at the IG’s office. This report should never have been released in its current form. And that fact that IG Meyer, a former police officer and former chief of investigations in the Auditor’s office, allowed this half-assed investigative report to be released leads me to believe he intended to whitewash the events instead of trying to provide an accurate review of was really happened under Kasich’s watch.