More than any other news group, Plunderbund has covered the legal case against Camp Kasich, filed by the Libertarian Party of Ohio [LPO] who saw its candidate for governor two years ago tossed off the primary ballot through a scheme that involved long-time political operatives spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to find a protester who could challenge signatures on party petitions.
For all practical purposes, that fight is now over in light of an order released Monday by Franklin County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Patrick Sheeran, who dismissed an appeal by lawyers representing the LPO to a ruling by the Ohio Elections Commission to not pursue the complaint.
Asked to comment on today’s decision, LPO attorney Mark Brown declined to do so. Brown would say no more than the order can be appealed to the 10th District Court of Appeals. Brown has long argued that evidence shows that the Kasich Campaign, the Ohio Republican Party and its Chairman Matt Borges, along with a long-time friend and political operative Terry Casey and officials in Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office were all involved in a scheme to remove Earl from the primary ballot in 2014.
“The Court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this appeal,” court documents read. “Appellant has no right to appeal the Ohio Elections Commission’s June 30, 2015 Order dismissing Appellant’s complaint for lack of probable cause. The ‘Ohio Elections Commission’s Motion to Dismiss,’ filed on August 25, 2015, is therefore GRANTED, and this case is hereby DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”
In the judge’s order today, he laid out the heart of the case: “On April 15, 2015, Appellant filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission, naming as respondents Governor Kasich, Lieutenant Governor Taylor, Kasich/Taylor for Ohio (Kasich/Taylor Campaign), Terry Casey, Matt Carle, Jeff Polesovsky, and Dave Luketic (collectively Respondents). Appellant alleged that Respondents had acted in concert to have Appellant removed from the primary ballot in May 2014 and that, in the course of such conduct, Respondents had violated Ohio election law. Specifically, Appellant alleged that Mr. Casey had made an in-kind contribution to the Kasich/Taylor Campaign that was not properly reported, by arranging for third parties to pay the attorney fees incurred in connection with Mr. Felsoci’s protest of Appellant’s candidacy.”
A Hearing Officer conducted a hearing on Mr. Felsoci’s protest and then reported to the Secretary of State that some of the signatures on Appellant’s nominating petitions were invalid. In March 2014, the Secretary of State adopted the Hearing Officer’s report and upheld Mr. Felsoci’s protest of Appellant’s candidacy. As a result of the Secretary of State’s decision, Appellant did not have enough valid signatures to be nominated as the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, and the Secretary of State removed Appellant’s name from the May 2014 primary ballot.
Gov. Kasich, with no challengers to eat away at his base of voters, as Mr. Earl’s candidacy was thought to be able to do, went on to win big, but in a low-turnout election. Had the Ohio Elections Commission pursued the matter, as Mr. Brown wanted, Gov. Kasich, his close advisers including those leading his reelection campaign would have been in a very bad spot given the governor’s presidential run that emphasized his years in Washington as a congressman and now as Ohio governor. All the right ingredients worthy of an Ohio episode of “House of Cards” were in place, from Nixonian-style dirty tricks squads to powerful lawyers charging $600,000 or more for their representation of their secret client, Mr. Casey, and Mr. Felsoci, who another judge called a “guileless dupe” for purposes of knocking Earl off the ballot.
John Kasich has been able to rely on the courts to keep him out of harm’s way. Whether it was the Ohio Supreme Court not hearing a challenge to his secret jobs group, JobsOhio, or this sleazy episode that could be a Hollywood script about graft and corruption in public office, Gov. John Kasich has escaped being on the firing line.