With all the alleged corruption going on in Franklin County—from staffers for Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor being found either goldbricking on state time or illegally altering charter school data to benefit certain sponsors, as has been the case for the husband of Gov. Kasich’s former chief of staff and now campaign manager— a county prosecutor who’s really interested in pursuing violations of the public trust would have a treasure trove of cases to attend to that would present serious legal problems, maybe even jail time, for those who committed the offenses and those who hired them.
But that hasn’t been the case with Ron O’Brien, a reliable Republican county prosecutor for the last 20 years. Along with Ohio Inspector General Randy Meyer, who has refused to pursue any substantive investigation into these alleged crimes to take on Camp Kasich in a way that would surely keep Gov. Kasich awake at night wondering which shoe would drop next and who it would drop on, Mr. O’Brien also seems asleep at the switch.
Klein v O’Brien: A Race To Watch
This lack of curiosity by Franklin County’s top cop sets the stage for a race next year, a presidential race year, that promises to pit Ron O’Brien against Zach Klein, who lead all council candidates this year in votes. Mr. Klein, an attorney who worked for Vice President Joe Biden before entering Columbus city politics, is circulating petitions for his challenge run against Mr. O’Brien.
Zachary Klein joined Columbus City Council in January 2011 and serves as the chair of the Public Safety & Judiciary and Public Utilities Committees, according to information found at his Website. “As chair of the Public Safety & Judiciary Committee, Council member Klein makes sure that our police and firefighters have the support they need to do their jobs effectively. He has long been committed to neighborhood safety and stability. As chair of the Development Committee, Council member Klein lead efforts to close down adult gaming parlors, establish a citywide graffiti removal program, and increase penalties for property owners who fail to keep their properties up to code.”
In his capacity as chair of the Public Utilities Committee, Mr. Klein supports the city’s efforts to provide safe, reliable services, including sanitary sewer, water, and electricity, to residents at the lowest possible cost and with the least possible environmental impact.”
According to information found at Franklin County Prosecutor’s Website, Mr. O’Brien is the county’s 50th Prosecuting Attorney. He’s a former Columbus City Attorney, Columbus City Prosecutor and Franklin County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney with over 40 years of governmental law service to the City of Columbus, Franklin County and its citizens.”
Mr. O’Brien was recently named the 2015 Ohio Prosecutor of the year by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney’s Association.
Zach Klein is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Capital Law School. As an attorney, he has managed multi-million dollar budgets at the state and federal level, and prosecuted those who prey upon vulnerable residents in securities fraud cases. He served as the deputy chief of legal services for then-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and also worked in the Office of the Vice President of the United States as deputy director of management and administration.
Council member Klein has served on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and the Capital University Law School Alumni Board. He is also an NCAA basketball referee. Klein lives with his wife and young daughter in Clintonville.
The Prosecuting Attorney represents the State of Ohio by inquiring into and prosecuting felony crimes committed by adults and all offenses committed by juveniles, according to public information. The Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney is also legal counsel for county officials, county agencies, townships and various boards. Please review our FAQ for answers to many common questions about the court process and how our office works.
The City of Columbus has become an island of blue surrounded by red counties that regularly elect Republicans. The Mayor of Columbus and all council seats have been held for many years by Democrats. Franklin County has also gone blue in presidential election years.
For many who want the county prosecutor to go after patently illegal acts, evidenced by the embarrassing debacle undertaken by David Hansen this summer over his illegal data rigging that benefited poor performing charter school sponsors and the more recent resignation of two high-level staffers to Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor that the state inspector general, appointed by Gov. Kasich, declined to pursue despite exhortations by the local news sources, including Plunderbund, who brought the staffers illegal activities to light through a public records request, a new effort at public integrity can only happen if Mr. Klein defeats Mr. O’Brien in what will be a closely watched race next year.