Gov. Kasich’s mouthpiece, Rob Nichols, says he does not understand why so much attention is being given “to a plan that was not implemented for a policy that was never implemented,” according to the Columbus Dispatch. The “plan” in question was one to allow drilling in state parks.
Rob, it’s not just the “plan” that matters. It’s the pattern of lying about the plan – and lying about lots of other important things, too.
This is the third time in four months that the usually Kasich-friendly Dispatch has called out Kasich over similar lies.
Here is how it unfolded.
Ohio’s leading environmental groups joined with ProgressOhio to drop a bombshell. The Akron Beacon Journal summed it up nicely:
Environmental groups released a document Monday they say indicates that Gov. John Kasich’s office was involved in drafting a 2012 state plan to promote hydraulic fracturing in Ohio state parks and forests, complete with a Nixon-style enemies list.
On Aug. 20, 2012, Wayne Struble, Kasich’s director of policy, sent invitations to eight of Kasich’s senior staffers, plus top administrators in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Those invited from Kasich’s office included Communications Director Scott Millburn, Chief of Staff Beth Hansen, senior adviser Jai Chabria, former director of legislative affairs Matt Carle (now Kasich’s campaign manager), and former policy adviser Craig Butler (now director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency).
The Columbus Dispatch documents Lie No. 1:
Nichols initially told The Dispatch that the governor’s office knew nothing about the plan. However, an email shows that Kasich’s top officials actually convened a meeting to discuss the campaign, whose stated goal was to “marginalize the effectiveness of communications by adversaries about the initiative” to bring fracking to state parks and forests. Several environmental organizations, including the Ohio Sierra Club, plus Hagan and Antonio were targeted for “zealous resistance” that must be overcome.
Nichols also claimed “the governor doesn’t support fracking in state parks” and “that’s been his position for the past year and a half.”
The Columbus Dispatch documents Lie No. 2:
New emails show that the Kasich administration did not end its consideration of a plan to sell Ohioans on the benefits of fracking in state parks in August 2012 as previously indicated.
Meetings between high-level officials of the governor’s office and Department of Natural Resources continued for months afterward – even though Gov. John Kasich supposedly had already decided against fracking on state-owned lands – according to 1,572 pages of material given to The Dispatch in response to a public records request almost three months ago.
Yet another environmental group documents Lie No. 3 and leaks it to the Columbus Dispatch:
A plan to sell Ohioans on the merits of fracking in their state parks was still being discussed by members of the Kasich administration in late 2012, documents obtained by an environmental group show.
A 19-page memo from Sept. 10, 2012, shows that the administration was planning to tell the public that fracking on state lands is needed to avoid implementing park entrance fees.
It is clear that the Kasich administration has been caught ONLY because of extraordinary circumstances. In order to get the records that document the lies and the efforts to undermine Ohio’s environment, environmental groups had to sue the administration – twice — to obtain public records created by people whose salaries are paid by the public.
It has been clear from day one that Kasich has a real disgust for open government.
Although he campaigned as the man who would fix Ohio’s economy, his signature effort to do so – JobsOhio – is exempt from open government laws. And Ohio’s ethics laws. And when the state auditor wanted to do his job and audit the books, Kasich won support for a new law to limit the auditor’s scope.
It’s also clear that fudging the truth is part of a pattern for the Kasich administration.
Let’s look at another high-profile matter in the news: The ongoing trial of Ben Suarez, the North Canton businessman accused of asking politicians for political favors, then illegally laundering campaign contributions to them.
US Rep. Jim Renacci and Treasurer Josh Mandel have been getting the bulk of the bad press but Suarez sought help from Kasich too.
Here is how it unfolded:
NOV. 6, 2013
The Plain Dealer reported that Renacci wrote a letter to Kasich that asked him to contact California Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene in a consumer protection dispute that Suarez was having in California.
Nichols make it clear that the governor did not make the call and said Kasich make it clear that “we can’t help you.”
Kasich’s chief counsel, Michael Grodhaus, sent Suarez a March 29, 2011, letter that said, in part, “Because the people of the state of California have clearly expressed their wishes as to the kinds of consumer protection laws and regulations they want in their state, we do not believe that it would be appropriate for the governor of Ohio to seek federal legislation to pre-empt or override California’s consumer protection laws and regulations…. Likewise, we do not believe that it would be appropriate for the governor of Ohio to intervene in or attempt to influence an ongoing investigation or regulatory proceeding initiated by a district attorney in another state.”
Team Kasich was quick to point to the letter as proof it believed it “can’t help” Suarez.
NOV. 8, 2013
Two days after the initial denial from Nichols, The Plain Dealer learned of yet another letter from the governor’s top lawyer, this one questioning the integrity of the prosecutor handling the case against Suarez and asking the California attorney general to “review the actions of the Napa County District Attorney to determine whether anything improper has occurred or is occurring in this purported investigation … and report back to me.’’
Sounds to me like an attempt to influence an ongoing investigation or regulatory proceeding initiated by a district attorney in another state.
Clearly annoyed by request, that California AG informed Grodhaus “the state’s prosecutors and their deputies adhere to high ethical standards….”