The Seitz case is the third investigation Ohio Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine has used his power to protect men accused of sexual harassment
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s questionable investigation into a sexual harassment claim made against fellow Republican House Minority Leader Bill Seitz isn’t the only time the gubernatorial candidate has protected his friends from allegations. In three separate DeWine has consistently protected men accused of sexual harassment through questionable and aggressive practices, such as:
- Hiring a law firm to investigate one of its former employees accused of sexual harassment, Bill Seitz;
- Hiring a law firm to investigate a politician they’ve donated to in the past;
- Allowing a law firm to donate to a politician’s campaign while the firm was being paid by DeWine to investigate that very same politician;
- Contacting investigators looking into sexual harassment complaints against one of DeWine’s employees;
- Demanding the name of a confidential informant;
- Interviewing said confidential informant;
- Pushing prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against an investigator who documented DeWine’s interference in the investigation;
- Gave out a mere 5-day working suspension to an employee who said “there is nothing more fun than smacking a woman, that is, except for punching them;” and
- Permitting a “re-investigation” into an employee accused of failing to report sexual harassment in the workplace.
These three cases suggest a disturbing pattern where DeWine protects his male staff and friends from sexual harassment claims, either by guaranteeing a sham investigation, directly interfering in the investigation, or when the ruling isn’t to his preference allowing the case to be re-investigated.
To recap the Seitz case: After a sexual harassment complaint was lodged against Seitz, DeWine hired the law firm Taft, Stettinius & Hollister to investigate him – despite the fact that everyone in politics knew Seitz had worked there for over three decades. Taft Stettinius & Hollister had directly donated over $13,000 to the Seitz campaign in the past, and perhaps most damning, donated $1,000 to Seitz’s campaign while they were investigating him.
DeWine got his wish, and Taft, Stettinius & Hollister cleared Seitz – after interviewing only two witnesses besides Seitz himself, despite over 100 people attending the party where the incident took place.
In another case, DeWine twice directly contacted investigators to discuss a sexual harassment claim against someone in his Attorney General office and then attempted to retaliate against at least one. In the first instance, DeWine called fellow Republican Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to discuss the case brought by a former female intern. Unsurprisingly, O’Brien ended up dismissing the allegations.
The investigation then went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance Officer, at which point DeWine requested that they interview him. During the interview, DeWine pushed for the officer to reveal the name of a confidential informant, then spoke to that informant. Three days after DeWine essentially forces the EEOC to interview him, the investigation was abruptly closed. DeWine then pressured O’Brien to pursue criminal charges against the EEOC officer after she documented his inappropriate interference with the confidential informant.
In a third case, DeWine’s office “re-investigated” a supervisor who had failed to report sexual harassment, and unsurprisingly overturned the ruling. Assistant Attorney General Tim Miller repeatedly told a legal secretary that he liked to slap and punch women. His supervisor, Tim Lecklider, was found to have failed to report the allegation, but in a highly unusual circumstance DeWine allowed his office to redo the investigation. This was the first time the office had overturned such a finding in five years.
Miller wasn’t even fired; he received a mere 5-day working suspension.