In the course of Wednesday’s press conference held at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Columbus, party Chairman Rep. Chris Redfern didn’t mince words about what he said has been an evolving story of what Gov. Kasich and top echelon members of his staff knew about Ben Suarez, a wealthy Republican benefactor whose quid-pro-quo “pay to play” relationship with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and Gov. Kasich emerged during a trial about political favors asked for by the Canton businessman and subsequently delivered by Mandel and Kasich.

RedfernStern-faced and speaking in a slow deliberate manner, Mr. Redfern repeatedly called responses given by Gov. Kasich’s press secretary, that first denied then downplayed the governor’s knowledge of Suarez and his campaign contributions, lies. Based on a string of email correspondence sent between March 29, 2011 and June 24, 2014 to and from key Kasich staffers like his Chief of Staff Beth Hanson and the governor’s Chief Legal Counsel Michael Grodhaus, Redfern said the governor must explain what happened between these dates that caused them to change their story about intervening on Suarez’s behalf.

To watch Redfern make his case and answer reporter questions, OhioNewsBureau has it here.

“To suggest the chief legal counsel to the governor, not the state of Ohio, but to the governor, did not know the magnitude of Suarez’s involvement in the campaign is, frankly, a lie,” Redfern said. “We would have to believe that the governor’s lawyer would write a letter … and to make that initiative on his own,” he said defies common sense. The emails provided to reporters today make a case that implicates Grodhaus and his assistant chief counsel, a key member of John Kasich’s 2010 election run, as both intimately involved in pushing the State of California for Suarez, , who wanted Mandel and Kasich to intervene on his behalf with California authorities with respect to a soon to be lawsuit about his firm’s advertising and sales practices.

The long awaited pubic records request, Redfern said, makes it “abundantly clear that the letter Grodhaus sent to Suarez was a “smoke screen” to create plausible deniability that the Kasich administration’s most senior staffers on the official side were engaged in an attempt to help out a major campaign donor. “The evidence is quite clear,” he said.

Sometimes starring at one reporter in particular who works for the Columbus Dispatch, a paper that loves Gov. Kasich and ran a political push-poll last Sunday showing Kasich with a questionable 30 point lead, Redfern said, “Time and time again the Kasich Administration has told one lie after another about its attempt to help Ben Suarez, and the cover up continued.” The plucky chairman, known for his sharpened acerbic tongue, said “it’s absolutely absurd to think that Beth Hanson and Hartley were kept in the loop for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with Suarez’s status as a major donor to the 2010 Kasich campaign.”

He toyed with Rob Nichols, Gov. Kasich’s press secretary whose reputation of giving nonsense responses that changed later is well known, saying his comment that Grodhaus’ activity was “nothing more than perfunctory, garden variety case work” was a lie. “Let’s be clear, the chief legal counsel is not involved in garden variety case work … and the average constituent does not have the governor’s personal cell phone number.” What Grodhaus did was not garden variety case work, he said. “It was, however, the very kind of garden variety corruption we’ve come to expect from this administration and other statewide elected officials who have been cornered on their own lies and deception,” Redfern said, adding, “This has becoming an all too familiar pattern with this administration.”

Redfern then ticked off other instances where Kasich communicators have mislead or lied to Ohioans, including lying about plans to allow fracking in state parks, the reasons why Kasich’s first EPA Administrator suddenly resigned and dropped out of sight.

“It’s time for this administration to stop hiding and stop lying about what it has done, and has been doing with Kasich’s major campaign donors and start being held accountable for pay to play politics.”

  • Susan Sullivan

    “Staring”, not starring.

  • SlapFat

    Indeed, that’s an error. “Stern faced” in the first sentence of the second paragraph also should be corrected to “Stern-faced” for it to be correct.

  • jr6020

    Did the ODP Chair blast Kasich for avoiding any debates too? A 30 sec tv spot asking why JK is afraid to debate just might grab some needed attention from the voters…

  • dmoore2222

    Why isn’t Fitzgerald saying all of this? Why is he so invisible at this crucial point? He should be at the head of a We Are Ohio rally telling Kasich to stop lying about the job numbers, among lots of other things. He’s not going to get the debates he wants because Kasich is going to take his chances that voters won’t notice or won’t care if he doesn’t debate the issues. Fitzgerald needs to step up and go on the offensive. There’s still time to do that.

  • Red Rover

    Did the Chairman mention the fact that the ODP is running a candidate against Kasich this November…?

    ODP is AWOL in the Governor’s race. The media doesn’t have to discourage Democratic voters if their Party has already let them down.

  • Red Rover

    Also a “pubic records request” might brush up against privacy laws…

  • anastasjoy

    Agreed. It’s very frustrating that Ed has all but disappeared. He should be out there and defiant. So many people still support him and are fuming at the state media’s selective attacks on him while ignoring growing evidence of Kasich’s corruption to say nothing of the destructive impacts of his bad policies.

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