Ohio Republicans made a big stink about Cuyahoga County not releasing key-card data that would show when Executive Ed FitzGerald entered and left county property and the county parking garage. Officials denied the request by the Cleveland Plain Dealer citing security concerns. Those records were released yesterday by new County Executive Armond Budish to a collective yawn.
Now it’s time for John Kasich to do the same.
Last year both the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Plunderbund asked for records of John Kasich’s key-card swipes and garage access, and we were told that the records “don’t exist” by both the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and Kasich’s office. According to the official response from the administration, the governor is assigned a security detail and a driver who “transport him daily for state business and appointments, generally dropping him at the curb at his destination, so there’s no key-card swipe at the statehouse garage.”
The PD may buy this explanation, but we believe the administration is lying about the existence of these records to avoid officially denying the request and facing a potential legal challenge over the records.
According to public records we did receive from DAS, Mary Taylor has a key-card to access state buildings, and her driver has a pass to enter state parking facilities. Records of the comings and goings of Ohio’s Lt. Gov. and her driver were released to Plunderbund last year, but the administration continues to deny that the same records exist for Governor Kasich, even though he also has a state vehicle and a driver. Sources familiar with Former Governor Strickland and LG Lee Fisher confirmed that both used the statehouse garage for their official vehicles.
Key-card swipe data for Lt. Governor Mary Taylor show that over a nearly six-month period between Jan. 1st, 2014 and June 15, 2014, Taylor used her access card on only four days to enter and exit state buildings in Downtown Columbus. Earlier this year, Mary Taylor’s chief of staff, and her executive assistant resigned after a public record request from Plunderbund revealed the women had been billing the state for time they were not actually working.
Garage access records for Taylor’s driver, however, show that her driver and vehicle used state parking facilities in Downtown Columbus at least 48 times over the same time period. “The garage pass for Lieutenant Governor Taylor is assigned to and used by her driver and reflects the driver’s use only,” said DAS attorney Catherine Perkins in her response to our public record request. “The pass is used by the driver whether or not the Lieutenant Governor is also present in the vehicle.”
According to Perkins, “There are no responsive records for Governor Kasich.”
After three attempts to find out why parking records for Taylor and her vehicle and driver were available, but the same records for Kasich’s vehicle and driver “do not exist”, Ms. Perkins politely refused the answer the question and instead referred us to the Plain Dealer article about Kasich’s driver “dropping him at the curb.”
Quick recap: Mary Taylor and John Kasich both have state vehicles and a driver. Mary Taylor’s building access card shows she was on state property only four days during a six month period in 2014. Her garage access card shows that her vehicle and driver were parking in statehouse garages almost 50 times during the same time period. The same records for Governor Kasich “don’t exist,” according to the Kasich Administration because Kasich’s driver simply drops him off at the curb then spends the day driving around in circles or something.
We call bullshit.
The Ohio Republican Party and the Kasich Campaign made a big deal about access card data during the campaign. And just recently Party Spokesperson Chris Schrimpf berated Ed FitzGerald for trying “to hide the truth from the voters for months at the expense of the taxpayer” and called on him to “turn over the records” and “end the charade.”
Those records have now been turned over, and we call on John Kasich to take Schrimpf’s advice: end this charade, Mr. Governor, and follow state law and turn over the public records we requested last year.