Mark Brown, the attorney representing the Ohio Libertarian Party and its 20124 candidate for governor, Charlie Earl, responded to motions to dismiss Earl’s complaint filed by Terry Casey and Gov. John Kasich’s 2014 reelection campaign.
Mr. Brown and co-counsel Mark G. Kafantaris asked The Ohio Elections Commission [OEC], the state agency that has jurisdiction over campaign finance laws, to not dismiss the case they filed on April 15, in which they allege collusion and coordination between Terry Casey, a long-time political friend and operative for John Kasich, top officials of the Kasich/Taylor Campaign and the Ohio Republican Party to remove Charlie Earl from the ballot so Kasich could cruise an unobstructed to victory.
Terry Casey asked OEC to dismiss the case. Brown wants OEC to pursue it further, saying, “The documentary evidence supplied by Earl proves all of this. And this evidence is most-assuredly just the tip of the iceberg. Better yet, it is an iceberg on top of a bigger iceberg.”
“Neither Casey nor the Kasich Campaign has submitted any evidence contradicting anything submitted by Earl. All Casey and the Kasich Campaign have done is submit litigation statements made by their lawyers. At bare minimum, Mr. Brown said in his motion, a thorough investigation is warranted. On Thursday OEC will hear the case at 10 A.M.
Casey and Kasich/Taylor For Ohio argue in their respective motions that state campaign finance law allows a party committee to make expenditures that benefit candidates, and by doing so, they say, it relieves the candidates benefited to include them in regular and timely reporting.
Brown doesn’t read that law in the same way. He takes issue with the motions to dismiss, arguing the defendants say nothing about Casey’s legal authority to make in-kind contributions in excess of contribution limits. “Neither Casey nor the Kasich Campaign cite any authority for their disturbing proposition that the Ohio Republican Party can retroactively immunize illegal activity. No authority supports the claim. Imagine a world where Casey’s and the Kasich Campaign’s argument holds true. Party committees could retroactively under guise of AOC § 111-5-16 cast immunities back to candidates and their benefactors who have already violated campaign finance contribution limits. They could do this by — several months later, well-after an election is over and in a completely different election cycle — simply picking up their tabs. Obviously, Ohio law says no such thing,” Brown wrote.
“Contributors and candidates must still abide by contribution limits. Caps on contributions still exist and must be followed. Candidates, moreover, must still report contributions from individuals in the appropriate election cycles — even if a party committee several months later after the election is over decides to pick up the individual contributor’s bill,” Brown writes.
Moreover, Terry Casey could not lawfully contribute $250,000 to the Kasich Campaign during the 2014 election cycle. The Kasich Campaign was required to timely report Casey’s in-kind contribution during the 2014 election cycle…The latest date for reporting was 12 days before the election. The Ohio Republican Party’s payments to the Zeiger law firm only benefited the Kasich campaign. No other candidate benefited, LPO’s motion to deny dismissal reads. Terry Casey, who has a prior campaign finance law conviction from 1992, admitted in a deposition administered by Mark Brown that he was helping only the Kasich Campaign. Because the Libertarian Party of Ohio remained a qualified party with numerous candidates during the 2014 election, no other Republican candidates could have benefited.
“The Ohio Republican Party’s belated ‘favor’ to Casey after this deadline had passed cannot be a Monopoly-style ‘get out of jail free’ card for the Kasich Campaign and Terry Casey,” Brown argued. By May 16, 2014, Mr. Casey owed the Zeiger law firm more than $250,000, which only benefited the Kasich Campaign. “If Casey’s activities were consented to by the Kasich Campaign, they
constituted an ‘in-kind’ contribution. If Casey’s activities were coordinated with the Kasich Campaign, they were an ‘in-kind’ contribution. Regardless of whether the Ohio Republican Party chose several months later to foot the bill, Casey’s contribution was illegal. Regardless of the Ohio Republican Party’s payments to the Zeiger firm several months later, the Kasich Campaign was required to timely report Casey’s contribution,” Brown concludes, adding that Casey and the Kasich Campaign violated Ohio’s contribution limits.
Terry Casey and Matt Borges, Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, who got his job when John Kasich orchestrated a palace coup of the state party soon after he won election in 2010, both testified that the Ohio Republican Party was in no way involved. The Kasich Campaign has not produced any evidence to the contrary, Brown writes. The Ohio Republican Party’s belated payments to the Zeiger firm could only have benefited one campaign, that of John Kasich, Brown deduces.
“Earl’s removal, simply put, was designed by Casey to benefit Kasich and no one else. Indeed, Earl’s removal could not have benefited any other Republican candidate in any other election.,” Brown wrote. “Neither Casey nor the Kasich Campaign present any evidence suggesting that the Ohio Republican Party paid the Zeiger firm for any reason other than relieving Casey of his debt. If the payments to the Zeiger firm have nothing to do with Casey, then they are simply immaterial. They can only be relevant if they represent payment of Casey’s debt. And Casey’s debt was incurred for only one person — Kasich.”
Earl, represented in his complaint by Brown, submitted substantial evidence demonstrating that high-ranking officials in the Kasich Campaign supplied Casey with information about Kasich’s need to have Earl removed from the ballot. Casey (a third party) hired and agreed to compensate personnel (the Zeiger firm) needed to accomplish the task. This was all known by the Kasich Campaign, attorney Brown said. “The Kasich Campaign obviously had Casey hire the Zeiger firm with a view toward having Earl removed. Casey’s and the Kasich Campaign’s coordinated activities fall squarely within the presumption. Earl, Brown said, “has submitted substantial documentary evidence demonstrating ‘substantial discussions’ between Casey and high-ranking officials in the Kasich Campaign about Earl’s removal.”
The Kasich Campaign supplied to Earl the protestor, Gregory Felsoci, who proved the key to the whole operation. Brown says the Kasich Campaign necessarily controlled because it located and controlled the protestor.
“Without the Kasich Campaign’s location of Felsoci, there would have been no protest,” he says.