Sean Chichelli, Director of Labor & Human Resources Policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce penned an article recently titled “Employers should have a right to know about criminal past of potential employees.” Chichelli said, “In today’s world, if someone is the best candidate for the job, many businesses are willing to consider them whether or not they have a criminal record. However, businesses must maintain their ability to inquire about job candidates’ criminal histories, and to conduct background checks on those candidates.”

Based on the sage advice from Chichelli, questions abound about why the Kasich Administration would hire a man like Scott W. Spencer whose criminal background was on full display to anyone who took just a few minutes to review it? Why did the Ohio Department of Transportation hire Spencer in 2012 if they knew about his sordid past? And if they didn’t know, why didn’t they know? Why would ODOT hire this self-proclaimed “kinkster” with his legal record into the office of General Counsel? Enquiring minds want to know.

What peaks the interest of some Capital Square watchers is that they recall that Scott W. Spencer followed John Kasich as the legislative aide to Donald “Buz” Lukens, a state senator and congressman who the ambitious Kasich worked for before winning his first race for public office in 1978.

So when Spencer’s name surfaced again, this time for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at Highbanks Metropark, where a law enforcement officer spotted him and his partner engaged in a pornographic triste, some enquiring minds had dots to connect.

Spencer is now cooling his heels in a Delaware County jail. Spencer, now 57-years old, appeared in Delaware County Municipal Court on Monday and is being held on $200,000 bond following two third-degree felony counts of sexual battery. According to Columbus TV station ABC6, Spencer was found by a Highbanks Metropark ranger who saw him Friday afternoon in an area usually closed to the public. The ranger followed Spencer into the woods in the Lewis Center park and found the girl, partially clothed and bound. From what Spencer told investigators, this wasn’t the first time he met this teenage girl in the park to abuse her. Meanwhile, Spencer said he can’t pay the bond because he has been out of work since November 2012.

A report Thursday said the grand jury in the Spencer case returned the indictments against him of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien told one reporter that the victim in this case met Spencer online. “ Parents need to be vigilant in their efforts to find out what their children are doing online and who they may be corresponding with,” she cautioned.  

Fans of the Ohio history channel and Statehouse intrigue, recall that Spencer was widely rumored to be the person who allegedly lifted papers related to redistricting in the early 1980s from the office of former Dayton-area Democratic House Member Ed Orlett.

In a telephone interview with OhioNewsBureau Thursday, Ed Orlett, now 81-years old, who served as a House Member representing the 34th district from January 3, 1973 – January 8, 1986, confirmed the incident from the early 1980s that involved Mr. Spencer. It occurred in 1981, Orlett said, when he arrived at his office in the old Annex building adjacent to the Statehouse mid-morning and found his information on redistricting missing. “My papers were gone,” Orlett, who lobbies now for Drug Policy Alliance and is president and owner of Orlett Realty & Investments, said. “It was common knowledge that I was working on redistricting with the speaker [Vern Riffe], and Spencer was seen in a suite of offices where mine was located,” he recounted to OhioNewsBureau. Orlett said Spencer sued him for slander in Franklin County Common Please Court, and that all parties agreed to drop the matter for legal fees.

Without the aide of an attorney who was out of town on the day of the trial, Orlett said he defended himself and did “a lousy job.” The court ruled against him and, as he says, “that was the end of that.”

The Ohio history channel shows Spencer worked for Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives as a press secretary and in the Ohio Senate as a legislative aide in the 1980s to Donald “Buz” Lukens, who before hiring Spencer hired John Kasich to be his legislative aide. Veterans of Capital Square say it’s not uncommon for departing aides to have a say in who might replace them. Gov. Kasich and his team will refuse to comment on Spencer’s time back then, but will be hard pressed to explain how a character like Spencer, with his GOP history readily available to them, could ever be hired into the general counsel’s office the Kasich Administration hired him into at ODOT.

Back in 1978, John Kasich was a brash and energetic young Republican who parlayed his on-the-job experience with Sen. Lukens into a long and lucrative career in public office following his defeat of State Sen. Robert O’Shaughnessy, the incumbent Democrat who didn’t take the aspiring politician serious enough until it was too late. Sen. Lukens, who was a member of what was then called the “Cave Man Caucus” that included other fiscal and social conservatives like Lukens, Tom VanMeter and John Ashbrook, hired John Kasich to be his legislative aide. From his first election in 1978 to his last election four years ago, John Kasich has never tasted defeat. And if polling this year is any indication of what he can expect on Nov. 4, he’ll keep his string in tact and he’ll continue his long and lucrative career as a public representative of the people.

And because of what history tells us about daring political operatives like Scott W. Spencer, whose work history is problematic, it’s newsworthy to note that the Kasich Administration nonetheless decided to hire him in 2012 into a $60,000-per year job in the chief legal counsel’s office reviewing public records requests.

Questions like who recommended Spencer to be hired, who was his patron, did no one do a background check him need to be asked and answered. Moreover, why would the conservative blogger group, The Columbus Dispatch, whose defense of and support for the governor is on clear display nearly every day, say Spencer had a promising future in GOP circles?

Records show Spencer has been barred by the Ohio Supreme Court from making any action of filing before any Franklin County Court without express leave of the Administrative Judge of the Franklin County Court.

Orlett told ONB that there may not be any newspaper clippings of the incident, unless the Dayton Daily News reported on it, or other accepted evidence to verify the incident. Orlett said he first reported it to Speaker Riffe’s office, then he told Statehouse security about it. “Keep your door locked,” Orlett was told, he said. “If you can’t feel safe in your own office in the Statehouse among other Democratic employees, you should be entitled to some expectation of reasonable security,” he said today.

One source close to Riffe’s office at the time said the speaker and Corwin Nixon, the leader of the minority Republican conference, likely reached agreement to drop the matter. Soon thereafter, though, Spencer showed up as Lukens’ legislative aide. Orlett told ONB he was “sort of a clearinghouse for Riffe’s Democratic caucus on reapportionment,” which a source close to the Speaker who “heard and saw a lot” confirmed happened. “We were instructed to keep the matter quiet and leave it to Tipton and Riffe,” the source who requested anonymity said.

What is fact is this, Mr. Spencer was admitted to the bar in 1985 and later served as general counsel for the Ohio Republican Party under Bob Bennett. What or who convinced Bennett to hire him then, and who or how did he get a reference to be hired at ODOT in 2012?

Spencer’s law license was suspended in 1994 for falsifying documents while representing a client, and he surrendered his license in 2003 pending disciplinary action. Sources say his personnel file at ODOT indicates he was fired Nov. 27, 2012 for visiting pornographic websites on his work computer. Spencer was counseled for “unwelcome” actions toward female co-workers and was reprimanded for a voicemail message he left a female co-worker, the Plain Dealer reported.

At one time Spencer successfully defended the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee in a lawsuit, but later had his law license suspended for falsifying documents to support the position of his client, Grange Mutual Insurance Co., in a personal-injury suit. Later in 2005, after he had represented the Ohio Republican Party, he surrendered his law license as the Supreme Court, the state agency that regulates lawyers in Ohio, bore down on him in another investigation that focused on fabricating another document in a real-estate deal.

Documents from the SCO show that on October 22, 2004, Scott W. and his wife Maria L. Spencer were called “vexatious litigants” in a default judgment hearing involving the Scotland Yard Condominium Association. The decision barred the Spencers from further litigation.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that in the 1980s and 1990s, Spencer appeared to have a bright future in the Ohio Republican Party.

John Kasich orchestrated a coupe of the Ohio Republican Party shortly after he was installed as Ohio’s 69th Governor. The palace coup Team Kasich executed was the ouster of Kevin DeWine, the anointed leader to succeed Bob Bennett, who oversaw a clean sweep of Democrats in 2010. Forced to step down, DeWine, a former House Member and kin of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, was replaced with Matt Borges. Gov. Kasich said Borges deserved a “second chance,” in light of his conviction for influence peddling as chief of staff to one-time disgraced Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters. Instead of Borges’ history disqualifying him for the job rumored to pay $250,000-per year, John Kasich and his team saw Borges’ boldness as exactly the kind of quality it needed to assemble and lead a political wrecking crew that would knock Democratic candidates off their rails this year.

Reports say ODOT investigators discovered Spencer visited pornographic web sites after it was reported he was spending time at the office after hours and on weekends. Spencer allegedly told investigators he was helping his daughter with “law school stuff.” Following a search of the web history on Spencer’s work computer, he had visited dozens of sexually explicit websites while at work and tried to access other sites blocked by ODOT controls.

Had Gov. Kasich and ODOT Director Jerry Wray taken Chichelli’s advice to know the background of potential employees, Scott W. Spencer, a long and loyal Republican with a shady history, would not have been hired.

If these are the kinds of personnel decisions John Kasich is proud of, it will be fun to watch who he hires when he gets elected president in two years. Ohioans can say with complete confidence, based on Kasich’s hiring history in Ohio, if you thought the “Ohio Gang” from the administration of Warren G. Harding, remembered by history for financial scandals that ended in prison terms and suicides, went to Washington to fleece the nation, the best has yet to come.

Evangelize!
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  • jr6020

    Sad to day, DublinBob is right. Of course, it didn’t help the ODP bigwigs did no due diligence before jumping on the FitzGerald bandwagon…so JK is getting a free ride. All the shenanigans with RobsOhio, questionable hires, lack of any transparency, charter school scandals and the states’ major rags?…they play dumb and dumber…no accountability, no transparency, lies and half-truths accepted without question…think Watergate would ever had been exposed if the journalists back then hadn’t done the tough, hard investigating? Yes, Thank God for Plunderbund but it’s a lone voice…God help us…

  • dmoore2222

    It’s pathetic that the only way this chump can get re-elected is to engage in mudslinging, not dialogue about his record. This is the legacy of lazy democrats who didn’t show up at the polls in 2010.

  • Think.

    Voters must judge the man, John Kasich, by the company he keeps.

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