We recently told you that Franklin County Commissioner and Democrat Paula Brooks is in league with Bill Lager – the man at the center of the charter pay-to-play scandal. She received $25,000 from him for her re-election campaign and her campaign hired a company aligned with Lager lobbyist Neil Clark to buy its TV time.
Brooks isn’t the only incumbent Democrat on the ballot aligned with Lager.
Sheriff Zach Scott gets money too. His failed run for mayor last year received $25,000 from Lager – money that arrived 9 days after Scott spoke at the 2105 ECOT graduation. Lager ponied up another $5000 for Scott’s re-election this year.
Neither Scott’s nor Brooks’ re-election is endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party. Why? Well, they are part of something insiders tell me is called the “cancerous cabal.’’
During the last mayor’s race, cabal supporters peddled false rumors that dozens were about to be indicted. At the center of the turmoil is Melissa Barnhart, a long-time fundraiser who managed Scott’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor.
In the recent post centering on Paul Brooks’ strange alignment with Lager, and her $25,000 from Lager, we asked:
How did it happen? Did Brooks call Lager and ask for the money? If so, has she no shame? Or did Lager call and volunteer the money? If so, did Brooks know with whom she’d crawled into bed? If not, does she follow the news with the same inattention to detail as Sara Palin?
We have the answers, thanks to an ECOT insider. BJ Sugar, Barnhart’s partner and father of her child, has a long-time consulting arrangement with Lager. The Sugar/Barnhart alliance help make the money flow.
Lager is a well-known political giver but the vast majority of his money goes to Republicans in the General Assembly and to statewide elected Republicans. They can do things for him: Give ECOT clean audits, write legislation that exempts ECOT from rules and regulations that conceal its lousy performance, have pals at the Ohio Department of Education make changes to state report cards that cover up failing grades for ECOT.
Lager got some help from Brooks, too. She stunned her fellow Democrats by saying she could support an all-appointed state school board. She made those comments as a member of the Constitutional Modernization Commission, a panel that is examining whether the Ohio Constitution needs to be updated. A campaign is now underway to remove her from the panel.
Today, the state school board includes members appointed by Gov. Kasich and elected by voters. The elected members are in the minority but have led efforts to reform charters and continue to demand an independent investigation into data manipulation designed to cover up poor scores at ECOT and other consistently failing online charters.
Sheriff Scott’s alignment with Lager comes as Lager’s charter-school business interests are facing new scrutiny.
Ohio’s Inspector General is interested in a strange deal in which Ohio State paid over $2 million to upgrade IQ Innovations – a distance learning platform owned by Lager.
So as a law enforcement entity is looking into the IQ/OSU mess, a top Franklin County law enforcement official gets money from Lager and speaks at ECOT’s annual graduation ceremony where he calls Lager a “visionary.’’
Scott faces a primary challenge from Dallas Baldwin , a retired Columbus Police lieutenant. Brooks faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Kevin Boyce. Both Baldwin and Boyce are endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party.