Friends & donors get special treatment from the Franklin County Prosecutor
How much does a prosecutor cost?
That’s the question ECOT founder Bill Lager and disgraced former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger are asking themselves as Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien faces public pressure to investigate both of them.
The FBI is closing in on Rosenberger, whose pay-to-play scheme became too obvious when he went to London with his payday lending pals while blocking reform legislation for over a year. In 2017 alone, Rosenberger spent over $40,000 of other people’s money to galavant around the globe with special interest groups and lobbyists.
But even though Rosenberger’s crimes are enough to warrant an FBI investigation, O’Brien hasn’t bothered. Not even the FBI raiding Rosenberger’s house and his storage unit has convinced the prosecutor to investigate what could be the Ohio corruption story of the decade.
O’Brien has 45,000 reasons why to stick his head in the sand when it comes to Rosenberger — that’s the amount the disgraced speaker and his patron/landlord/GOP lobbyist Ginni Ragan gave O’Brien in 2016 alone.
Bill Lager, founder of the now-closed school ECOT, should also be under investigation as the school comes under fire for it being Lager’s own “get rich” scheme at the expense of students and Ohio taxpayers, including manipulating and lying about student attendance data to get more funding.
So far, Lager’s $10,000 contribution to O’Brien has purchased a “Stay out of Jail” card. But just this week, after ProgressOhio released a petition demanding he return the campaign contributions, O’Brien announced that he would ask an outside reviewer to determine if criminal charges should be pursued.
Unfortunately, this move is just a political ploy. O’Brien will still get to choose one of his pals to head up the investigation (or someone else under his control) while KEEPING the dirty ECOT money. Shame has forced other Republicans into donating their ECOT contributions, but apparently O’Brien has none.
Occasionally, O’Brien gives his friends a special discount – if they’re well-connected, they don’t even have to pay him to ignore him. After then-Ohio school choice director David Hansen was caught red-handed manipulating school grades to make Ohio charters look better, O’Brien refused to investigate him.
The case was similar to another O’Brien had successfully prosecuted and would have been an easy case, but there was one major difference: Hansen’s wife was Governor Kasich’s chief of staff at the time. Best-case scenario (for O’Brien): one of the most powerful politicians in Ohio gets angry because he tries to put her husband in jail. Worst-case scenario: THE most powerful Ohio politician (Kasich) gets angry.
Of course, the best-case scenario for Ohio taxpayers would have been Hansen answering for his lies and crimes, but Ohioans apparently aren’t well-connected enough for O’Brien.
Because the Statehouse is in Franklin County, the county prosecutor has a special ability to keep our elected officials in check and pursue politicians who break the law and the public trust. Yet these failures to investigate show that O’Brien is a master at overlooking transgressions from his friends, the politically connected, and his donors.
Though O’Brien isn’t on the ballot in 2018, Ohioans are sick of the corruption culture that has rotted the Ohio GOP, and they’ll make them answer come November.