Gov. John Kasich received another gift from God last week. Instead of heavenly angel messengers like Gabriel delivering it, the gift came through a Federal Magistrate judge in Ohio.
Key members of Camp Kasich could have received court sanctions for unethical and likely illegal actions surrounding the 2014 dumping of The Libertarian Party of Ohio’s [LPO] candidate for governor. This kind of political muscling done to wreck a competitor’s chances to fairly get on the ballot was called “political espionage” by LPO’s plaintiff attorney.
Camp Kasich can breathe a short sigh of relief, at least in Ohio, that the blockbuster issues lurking in The Libertarian Party of Ohio v Jon Husted case are now “resolved” as far as this court is concerned. LPO lawyer Mark Brown has until this Friday to file for reconsideration.
Playing Granite State voters for rubes by masquerading as a positive, Zen-like Republican conservative candidate, the 63-year old disciple of Ronald Reagan, John Kasich, won a big victory back home when Federal Magistrate Judge Terrence Kemp only verbally lashed lawyers representing political confidants of Team Kasich for behavior that could easily have warranted sanctions, as LPO’ plaintiff lawyers wanted but was denied.
A successful and expensive collaborative effort that orchestrated a clear path for Mr. Kasich to win reelection included a well-known Republican lawyer, the leader of The Ohio Republican Party [ORP] and a long-time friend and political operative.
Writing for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division, Magistrate Judge Terrence Kemp rejected on technical arguments assertions made by LPO counsel Mark Brown, that Gov. Kasich, long-time ally and political confidant Terry Casey, Matt Borges, Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party and John Zeiger, a well-known GOP attorney whose clients include The Columbus Dispatch, conspired to remove Mr. Earl from the ballot by engaging a so-called “guileless dupe” to make Gov. Kasich appear more popular than he is.
“The overall conduct of discovery in this case, especially on the part of Mr. Felsoci’s and Mr. Casey’s counsel, demonstrates a pattern of technical and begrudging responses and objections to discovery requests, which pattern was clearly designed to delay or obstruct the Plaintiffs’ ability to learn that the Ohio Republican Party [ORP] was involved in the effort to keep Libertarian Party candidates off the ballot,” Judge Kemp wrote in a 10-page decision released last Friday.
Information contained in court documents show Terry Casey found Gregory Felsoci, the “intervenor defendant” who subsequently challenged Charlie Earl in court, a “guileless dupe” who Mr. Casey convinced to be a pawn for Camp Kasich. After much delay and opposition from Mr. Casey and his attorney John Zeiger, LPO counsel learned through discovery that $600,000 and maybe more was paid to Zeiger by Mr. Borges at the ORP to cover Mr. Casey’s attorney’s costs.
Magistrate Judge Kemp wrote that the most comprehensive motion by LPO plaintiff attorney Mark Brown “concludes that Mr. Felsoci’s participation on this case was ‘political espionage’ designed to thwart legitimate discovery and that his tactics were ‘of the scorched earth’ variety.”
The famous Watergate case that brought down President Richard Nixon after his reelection win in 1972 was an act of political espionage. Mr. Brown, Newton D. Baker/Baker & Hostetler Chair at Capital University Law School, made the case that “political espionage” was at the heart of the cabal by Kasich confidants to take down Charlie Earl. Doing so presented the governor of Ohio as more popular than he was as he readied his run for president.
Primary players in this Ohio political drama include two key members of Team Kasich, Matt Borges and Terry Casey, both of whom have prior convictions for political corruption. Mr. Casey’s lawyer John Zeiger and Mr. Borges were no doubt selected to sideline Charlie Earl for their proven willingness and ability to go well beyond the bounds of ethics and law. Court documents and efforts by LPO plaintiff attorneys show they were not forthcoming about their actions and motivations every step of the way.
Good people don’t select bad people for important roles, so when Gov. Kasich talks about his halo of “peace and light,” it’s more like a crown of thorns of poor hiring choices. This actively managed political corruption episode only compounds his false narrative of being the always-positive uniter who constantly shines up his trumped up performance claims with shout-outs to the Lord for his climb to political power and presidential stardom.
Acceptance without comment by Ohio and national media shows how low journalism has sunk and why the once vaunted Fourth Estate’s reputation as truth tellers no longer holds true with the American electorate. Going along with John Kasich’s self-described “prince of light and hope” spiel this year is more sad evidence of just how far the trade of reporting has fallen. For the cynical readers out there, the odd irony is that Donald Trumps mantra to “Make America Great Again” could find Ohio a good place to start.
This story, like so many others, appear to be invisible to the troop or New Hampshire reporters who have no clue, and seem to have no motivation, to about Gov. Kasich’s shoddy if not illegal activities. From evading a Republican legislature to expanding Medicaid through administrative means, passing harmful legislation to women, to passing the biggest budgets in state history while withholding billions from local governments to store away to be given back to Ohio’s wealthiest in income tax cuts, elite and not-so elite reporters are missing the real story of Gov. Kasich’s made-up narrative of how he’s turned his adopted state around.
Judge Kemp cut Kasich another break by denying sanctions in the case brought by Mr. Earl via his attorney Mark Brown. Meanwhile, another case lingers in Franklin County Common Please Court, under Administrative Judge Sheehan, that could also force more focus on Camp Kasich and how it operates when it wants to. That case is also awaiting a decision. The twist here is that Judge Sheehan, who has the case but has not acted on it, has announced his retirement.
Asked what happens next, LPO Attorney Mark Brown said he doesn’t know yet.
You can read the full court documents here: LPO2013KempOrderFebruary2016