TO: Ohio Reporters, Editors, And Editorial Boards
FROM: Michael McGovern, ProgressOhio
DATE: September 2, 2020
RE: Ohio GOP’s Corruption – 20 Years of The Same Story
Few close observers of Ohio politics were surprised when news broke of the corruption scandal involving Larry Householder and House Bill 6. It was clear even last fall that passing this bailout was no ordinary process.
As the details of the scandal emerged, the scale was shocking. But if we look at the story and characters, it was by no means unique. Over the last two decades, the basic arc has stayed the same: powerful Republican politicians enriching themselves with the rest of us footing the bill.
What we are seeing isn’t new: the last twenty years of Ohio politics have been defined by Republican corruption scandals. Corruption by the Ohio GOP is not a bug — it’s a feature.
As a result, each year, new small scale abuses surface, and every few years, a breath-takingly large-scale abuse of power is uncovered. And the same players – GOP politicians, lobbyists, donors, and staffers – often seem to reemerge in new roles as each new scandal plays out. Yet all too often, few of these powerful individuals are truly held accountable as everyday Ohioans lose out above all else. The storyline of each scandal is surprisingly consistent:
The Four Pillars of GOP Corruption:
When taken in its totality, the scope of the GOP’s culture of corruption and pay-to-play politics over the last two decades is stunning:
In 2018, it finally became public that the entire operation was a massive ponzi scheme. Yet no criminal charges have been filed and Yost, now the Attorney General, keeps delaying his lawsuit to get the money back. Neil Clark, who was indicted in the latest scandal, was also the lobbyist and spokesman for ECOT. The defunct blog Third Rail Politics was ECOT’s loudest booster, while also strongly supporting Householder.
This GOP pattern is impossible to ignore. This GOP corruption is clearly systemic – it defines their very approach to politics.
To be sure, some Democrats have had ethical challenges as well, but as in the cases of Marc Dann or Tamaya Dennard, Democrats forced them to resign. Yet Householder is still a member of the state House of Representatives, allowed to hold court on the House floor with impunity.
It is clear that the entire Ohio GOP is built on this kind of pay-to-play politics. The people and money involved extend far beyond Householder and FirstEnergy. Even GOP elected officials accused of no wrongdoing are complicit in this culture of corruption. The same special interests that brought down Rosenberger and Householder are major funders of Gov. DeWine, the ORP, Supreme Court Justices French and Kennedy and every other Republican politician in Ohio. All of their power is based in quid pro quo politics. It’s rotten to its core.
In the era of Trump, it’s easy to become numb to norm breaking, desensitized to special interest favors, and immune to outrage when so many abuses happen every day. But we ask that in your ongoing coverage of this Householder scandal, you will view this in light of the last twenty years of GOP corruption, rather than just an individual scandal. Any elected official who took money from these tainted special interests owes us an explanation.
This is the story of the last two decades of Ohio politics. The Householder scandal is just the cherry on top of twenty years of corruption. Shame on us if we fail to hold them accountable.