What’s the best way to avoid a criminal investigation in Ohio? Be a Republican.
What’s the best way to have a prosecutor dig through your life? Criticize John Kasich.
Recent news makes it seem to be that simple.
Joesph highlighted the case of Beth Trombold who was recently appointed to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Because some of the spots on PUCO are reserved for Democrats or Independents, party affiliation is important.
The Plain Dealer explains what happened:
Trombold, of Columbus, called herself a Republican when she applied for a different vacancy on the regulatory panel last year. But when seeking this year’s post she identified herself as an independent.
In other words, Trombold first said she was a Republican, then said she was an independent.
This is a crime. It’s called Falsification.
The relevant statute is 2921.13. The statute prohibits the making of a false statement in a number of circumstances, including with the “purpose to mislead a public official in performing the public official’s official function.” Violation of this statute is a first degree misdemeanor.
Joe made an excellent point: “I’ll give Beth the benefit of the dout and assume at least ONE of the two answers she gave was actually true. But that means the other was false i.e. she lied – sorry, “miscast herself” – on one of her job applications.”
From a legal standpoint, this means that she is 100% guilty of falsification. The statute provides that the prosecution does not need to prove which statement was false, only that different statements were made (which means ONE of the statements had to be false). The statute says: “If contradictory statements relating to the same fact are made by the offender . . . it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove which statement was false but only that one or the other was false.”
In other words, it doesn’t matter whether Trumbold was a Republican or independent. She can be prosecuted just for making two dissimilar statements about her political affiliation.
It could get even worse for Trumbold. An aggressive prosecutor could argue that because the application for the job is a state record, making false statements in the application constitutes tampering with records, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
We have not seen any reporting that Republican Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien is looking into possible criminal conduct.
The same can’t be said about critics of the Kasich Administration. Earlier this week, we noted that a Republican prosecutor in Warren County had opened up a criminal investigation into statements by a school superintendent that were critical of the Kasich Administration. Our view is that this is a bullshit case that should not be pursued.
Republican prosecutors seemingly don’t apply the same standard to friends of the Kasich Administration as critics. Earlier this year, in looking at whether Kasich appointee Stan Heffner should face criminal charges, we noted that the Republican O’Brien seemed to treat his situation more leniently than similar situations involving state employees.
The point here is obvious but bears stating: people should be treated the same by prosecutors regardless of whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Instead, Republican prosecutors are bringing the weight of the criminal justice system down on critics of the Kasich Administration, while ignoring criminal conduct by Kasich appointees and allies.
We would be happy for Republican O’Brien to prove us wrong. He should open up a criminal investigation against Trumbold.