On Friday, Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s office announced that her chief of staff and an administrative assistant were resigning after an investigation by Plunderbund revealed Laura Johnson and her assistant Heather Brandt had been billing the state for hours they were not working. Plunderbund initiated the investigation after receiving a tip that Johnson and Brandt had been working on the Kasich/Taylor reelection campaign while being paid by the state.
Both Johnson and Brandt were paid employees of the Kasich/Taylor campaign in 2010. Brandt continued to be paid by the campaign for all of 2011, long after the election was over and Kasich and Taylor had taken office. Monthly payments to Brandt from the campaign of $1,000 ended in December 2011 just prior to her hiring by the LG’s office.
In an AP story about the incident, Brandt cited an “unhealthy hostile work environment” as her reason for leaving. Which certainly may explain the high turnover rate for Taylor staffers – especially those who followed Taylor from the Ohio Auditor’s Office where she served prior to taking over at Lieutenant Governor.
According to documents received from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, at least two other employees have left the LG’s office in the past six months: Paula Farrell, an executive assistant in the LG’s office, and Jenna Mann, the LG’s assistant communication director.
Paula Farrell transferred to the LG’s office in 2011 from the Auditor’s office, where she previously worked for Mary Taylor. On December 29th, 2013 she transferred out of Taylor’s office to a classified position with the Medical Board, taking a slight pay cut in the process.
Jenna Mann abruptly left her position as Taylor’s assistant communications director on April 29th, 2014 after serving in that position since August 2012. Mann had transferred to the LG’s office from the Ohio House where she was working as an outreach coordinator. Mann had previously worked for “Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom” and as executive assistant to GOP Political Consultant Rex Elsass.
At least three more of Mary Taylor’s original eleven employees have also left since 2011.
Brian Dicken worked as a regional liaison in the auditor’s office under Taylor. He came over the LG’s office with Taylor in 2011 as the regional representative for Northwest Ohio. He left in 2013 and now works for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Michael Chadsey also worked as a regional liaison in the auditor’s office under Taylor. He came over to the LG’s office as a regional representative for the Northeast in 2011 and left nine months later. Now he works for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.
Steve Faulkner was Mary Taylor’s deputy press secretary at the Ohio Auditor’s Office and he became Mary Taylor’s communications director in the LG’s office. Faulkner made it nine months, and then moved over to ODOT.
In total, 6 of Taylor’s 11 original staff members have now left her office, giving her a turnover rate of about 55%.
According to today’s Dispatch, much of Taylor’s staff works on the 30th floor of Riffe alongside John Kasich and his team. Wouldn’t they have noticed if the woman responsible for running Taylor’s office was never around? Shouldn’t they have noticed and spoken up about whatever kind of “unhealthy hostile work environment” was causing another Taylor staffer to quit every few months? And where was Mary Taylor while all this was happening?
John Kasich and Mary Taylor have a lot of questions to answer.