Republicans in Ohio must feel invincible, as though they have carte blanche to do whatever they like and get away with it. It must be the hubris that comes with rampant, shameless gerrymandering.
State Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, was arrested around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 12, after being found by police passed out in his car at a McDonald’s drive-through with a loaded gun in the seat next to him.
He is now refusing to resign, despite a fourth-degree felony charge of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and, obviously, driving under the influence.
This arrest occurred after Retherford attended the Butler County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner that Saturday night. It gets better – or worse, depending on your perspective. Retherford attended that meeting with several other GOPers who are eyeing statewide runs in 2018, and those gentlemen reportedly have not been any help to law enforcement investigating the Retherford case.
They include state Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, who is looking to be Ohio’s next Secretary of State (and held a fundraiser earlier this month with Trump Administration Minister of Lies and Misinformation Sean Spicer), and state Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, who previously served as state Senate President and reportedly has designs to be our next state auditor.
After the incident, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones charged that the fellow lawmakers who also went to the bar with Retherford after the party dinner didn’t help police investigators.
From the Dayton Daily News:
On The Bill Cunningham Show, Jones said, “We have been trying to reach out to these people, that are elected, and question them. And, hey, nobody has seen nothing, nobody has heard nothing.” …
“I’m not going to mention names, they know who they are,” Jones said in an interview.
The Daily News identified them as Faber and LaRose, who issued statements to the News in the link above.
We’re not done yet, folks. Apparently Retherford’s spirited enthusiasm for the spirits has already landed him in firewater with Republican leaders in the past.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Retherford was recently re-elected by more than 30 percentage points over his Democratic challenger… Retherford also defeated former Rep. Courtney Combs in the GOP primary even after the Butler County Republican Party endorsed Combs.
During the primary, Combs accused Retherford of having a partying problem in Columbus. Speaker Cliff Rosenberger asked Retherford multiple times to remove a drink cart in Retherford’s office because having one violated House rules.
And now the Butler County GOP has asked Retherford to resign, but he refuses, and has asked for his space.
From the Hamilton-Middleton Journal-News:
The GOP is asking for Retherford’s resignation not only based on his recent arrest, but also because of his past history of traffic violations, Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall told the Journal-News in an exclusive interview.
This news outlet reported Tuesday that Retherford has racked up traffic tickets across the state and got into seven car accidents, beginning shortly after he got his driver’s license in 2000, according to Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles records.
“Wes has proven himself unreliable and unfit to serve the fine people of his district. His actions and behavior are unacceptable,” Hall said. “Now, he has been charged with a felony. His constituents deserve better, and our party deserves better. I call on Wes to resign immediately to allow the Republican Party and Statehouse (Republican) Caucus to appoint a reliable and strong party member to fulfill the remaining term and be a longstanding servant to the 51st District.”
And what has Retherford done? He’s shirking his duties in the House and playing the victim.
From a statement issued last Wednesday:
“Due to present circumstances, I regretfully will be absent from session and all committee hearings in the Ohio House of Representatives for the remainder of the week. Out of respect for my family, I humbly ask for space and privacy as we move forward on this personal matter.”
We’d now like to garnish this steaming bowl of bullshit soup with some nice parsley and chives.
Retherford – who gets drunk and passes out with a loaded gun next to him in a McDonald’s drive-through – is the same brilliant mind in our state legislature who introduced the idea of allowing concealed carry in Ohio without any training or permits.
Sheriff Jones had a comment about that too, telling the Journal-News it was “quite possibly the most absurd idea I have heard in my tenure as sheriff.”
Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper issued the following statement today (Tuesday):
“We hope Wes Retherford gets the help he so clearly needs, but even a cursory review of his hazardous driving record reveals that this is far from an isolated incident. It’s obvious Retherford has needed help for a long time, but statehouse Republicans have turned a blind eye and enabled his bad behavior for years.”
Pepper then turned his sights on the fact that pictures from the Butler GOP dinner have been removed from Twitter, and also on LaRose and Faber.
“Now they’re scrubbing their social media profiles of photos with Retherford from the night in question and, according to the Butler County sheriff, refusing to cooperate with the investigation. If Frank LaRose and Keith Faber intend to run for higher office, they should come clean immediately with investigators about their interactions with Retherford on that night. As any student of political history knows, it’s not always about the crime – very often it’s about the cover-up, and Ohio voters deserve to know if LaRose and Faber are covering up something.”