On Monday, just 15 days before Election Day, Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General David Pepper joined women from across Ohio, including Kathy DiCristofaro, Chair of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus, to lambaste Dewine over what they described as a “troubling pattern of harassment cases and short-circuited investigations” in the AG’s office. Pepper is making his first run at AG, while DeWine is running for reelection as Ohio’s top cop,
The latest issue in DeWine’s office involves Tim Miller, an assistant AG in DeWine’s employment-law section, who told a legal secretary that “there is nothing more fun than smacking a women—that is, except for punching them.” Timothy Lecklider, the agency’s employment law chief, initially ignored the incident, but later issued a verbal reprimand to Miller with the caveat that he didn’t want to make the office “a no-fun zone.”
“These startling incidents are starting to resemble a workplace out of the 1950s when it comes to women. It’s long past time to end a ‘Mad Men’ culture which keeps rearing its ugly head in the Attorney General’s Office,” Pepper told reporters on hand for the event. “The attorney general can’t lead the fight to prevent violence against women if he doesn’t protect the women who work in his own office,” Pepper said in prepared remarks. “Threats of violence are never acceptable and should never be swept under the rug. I will order a complete internal investigation of these incidents and any others—and bring in outside experts to do a top-to-bottom review of the office’s harassment policies and practices—to ensure that we are taking every possible step to create a safe, harassment-free working environment in the AG’s office.”
Standing with Pepper was Kathy DiCristofaro, who took time to record a “60 Seconds Ohio” series video that calls out DeWine for permitting this situation to take a twisted course, one which violates agency protocol and demonstrates how carefree the God-driven general is on issues related to women and their rights, especially their constitutional right to reproductive choice. “There’s a culture of harassment in the Attorney General’s office, and Mike DeWine is doing next to nothing about it,” she said, adding, “We now have a second case involving senior DeWine aides where key people ultimately were not punished. Women – and all Ohioans – deserve an independent investigation of these incidents and DeWine’s process for handling them.”
According to reports by the AP, Lecklider was initially disciplined for his failure to act on the harassment. But in an unusual move, he was later allowed to have his case re-investigated. DeWine still employees the attorney who made the threats, even though the female victim has left the office and Lecklider left for a job with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office.
This is the second major harassment case to be uncovered in the office, the first being the harassment of a female intern in which Mr. DeWine, himself, demanded to know the name of a confidential informant. DeWine later met with that informant. The case went unresolved, and the intern never returned, reports say.
With just 15 days until Election Day, David Pepper hopes DeWine’s insensitivity to women, especially women who work in his office, gains traction with women and men who turnout to vote in this midterm election cycle. Pepper, a former Cincinnati City Councilman and Hamilton County Commissioner, has pledged to make preventing violence against women a priority. In April, Pepper released his plan to make Ohio a leader in preventing domestic abuse and sexual assaults.
DiCristofaro and other Members of the ODWC have previously called for an independent investigation into the mishandled claim of sexual harassment of a female intern. DeWine’s senior aide and section chief was aware of the incidents but failed to report them, which constituted a violation of office policy. Lecklider’s case was re-investigated and the original finding was overturned, the first time in over five years this has happened in a harassment case.
Watch Kathy DiCristofaro on “60 Seconds Ohio.”