August 22, 2018

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Latest News, Ohio

DeWine Launches Dishonest Ad to Cover Up His Failure to Keep Ohio Women Safe

DeWine Interfered With Multiple Sexual Harassment Investigations, Empowered Alleged Abusers

Today, Mike DeWine launched the first ad of his general election in a dishonest attempt to cover up his failure to keep Ohio women safe. DeWine claims to have used his office to protect Ohio women from sexual harassment and assault. But his record tells a very different story.

As Attorney General, DeWine displayed a “troubling pattern” of using his office to intervene in sexual harassment investigations and protect those accused from punishment:

  • DeWine installed a law firm to investigate a high profile sexual harassment case that had close ties to the accused person. The Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board called the decision “tone-deaf and offensive” for neglecting the “obvious conflict.”
  • When his close ally was accused of harassment by an intern in the Attorney General Office, DeWine “got personally involved” and “used his power to short-circuit the investigation and shut it down.”
  • Another lawyer in DeWine’s office openly talked about how he wanted to “slap and punch” women working for him. He was given a light punishment with no further discipline.

Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that DeWine’s office has such a poor record of handling these cases. While he was still in the Senate, DeWine voted against multiple measures aimed at protecting sexual assault victims and helping their recovery.

He also endorsed President Trump despite 16 women accusing him of sexual assault and the emergence of the infamous record of Trump joking about sexual assault.

“When it comes to protecting Ohio women, Mike DeWine has failed every step of the way,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director David Turner. “Mike DeWine repeatedly used his influence to silence victims and empower alleged abusers, and Ohioans can’t trust him to keep them safe. This dishonest ad can’t erase Mike DeWine’s years of neglect and failure to do his job and keep victims safe.”

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Background 

August 2018, Huffington Post Headline: “Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Handling Of Sexual Harassment Cases Fits A Troubling Pattern.” According to the Huffington Post, “For a moment this summer, it looked as though the Me Too reckoning might embroil the high-stakes race for Ohio governor. Mike DeWine, the attorney general and Republican nominee to replace Gov. John Kasich, had placed a law firm with deep ties to Republicans in charge of investigating sexual harassment claims against a longtime GOP power broker. It was exactly the kind of cronyism that has lately attracted greater scrutiny. The lawmaker had even spent decades working for the firm. So far, DeWine, who is in a close race to preserve Republicans’ total grip on Ohio politics, has weathered the scandal. But a few have argued it’s part of a pattern: DeWine and his office have been accused twice before of intervening in sexual harassment investigations that implicated people close to him.” [Huffington Post8/15/18] 

Bill Seitz Investigation

In July 2018, An Ohio House Spokesman Said Taft Stettinius Was Recommended by DeWine’s Office to Serve as the House’s Outside Counsel. According to an editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “A House spokesman said Taft Stettinius has been the House’s outside counsel since April 2016; was recommended by Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office; and has aided in nine investigations.” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, Editorial, 7/20/18]

July 2018, Columbus Dispatch Editorial: Hiring Taft, Stettinius & Hollister to Investigate Seitz is “Tone-Deaf and Offensive.” According to an editorial in the Columbus Dispatch, “There’s no evidence to suggest that the two lawyers from Taft, Stettinius & Hollister who investigated the complaint did anything other than a professional job, and the firm has handled many other such investigations for the house.” [Columbus Dispatch, Editorial, 7/3/18]

AG Office Intern

April 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “DeWine Drew Fire Over His Personal Involvement in a Case Involving an Alleged Employee Harassment.” According to the Columbus Dispatch, DeWine also drew fire over his personal involvement in a case involving alleged employee harassment in 2014. DeWine insisted on getting the name of an informant promised confidentiality who was thought to have knowledge of someone committing sexual harassment against a former female intern, and spoke to the person. The case, against an ‘high up’ man in the attorney general’s office described as ‘close’ to DeWine, was closed days later after the initial witness declined to cooperate with prosecutors and no harasser could be identified. DeWine later eliminated his equal-opportunity officer who investigated harassment claims in favour [sic] of handing the duty to an outside law firm.” [Columbus Dispatch, 4/4/18]

Opinion: DeWine “Used His Power To Short-Circuit The Investigation And Shut It Down, Similar To The Way Harassers Use Their Positions Of Power To Intimidate Interns And Subordinate Employees.” According to a blog post by Matt Westerhold in the Register, “Sexual harassment is all about power, and DeWine used his power to short-circuit the investigation and shut it down, similar to the way harassers use their position of power to intimidate interns and subordinate employees with whom they want to have sex.” [Register, Opinion, 8/9/14]

Deputy AG Tim Miler, Assault Comments

Tim Miller, An Assistant Attorney General Within DeWine’s Employment Law Section, Told A Legal Secretary That He Liked To Slap And Punch Women. The Associated Press reported, “Investigators at Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office last year first faulted, then exonerated DeWine’s then-employment law chief over how he handled an employee who repeatedly told a legal secretary he liked to slap and punch women, records obtained by The Associated Press show. A compliance officer in the attorney general’s officer first found probable cause that supervisor Timothy Lecklider failed to report the allegation. But Lecklider was given the unusual opportunity of having the finding against him re-investigated and new witness interviews led to the finding being overturned, the records show. […] The latest case involves exchanges between Tim Miller, an assistant attorney general within DeWine’s Employment Law Section, and a legal secretary in the office. During job reviews in March and June of last year, the legal secretary reported feeling uncomfortable around Miller because of such comments as, ‘You know you will do your job or you will be smacked.’ She said she never felt threatened but wanted the comments to stop.” [Associated Press, 10/17/14]

Miller Received A Working Suspension. The Associated Press reported, “The latest case involves exchanges between Tim Miller, an assistant attorney general within DeWine’s Employment Law Section, and a legal secretary in the office. During job reviews in March and June of last year, the legal secretary reported feeling uncomfortable around Miller because of such comments as, ‘You know you will do your job or you will be smacked.’ She said she never felt threatened but wanted the comments to stop. […] Miller was ultimately disciplined with a working suspension, according to his state personnel file. Tierney said he’s also under a two-year human resources arrangement that could result in firing in case of any repeat incidents.” [Associated Press, 10/17/14]

Sexual Assault Victims

In 2004, DeWine Urged Senate Colleagues to Vote Against an Amendment That Would Require Employers to Give Unpaid Leave to Women Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence. According to the Toledo Blade, “The Senate also debated an amendment that would have required employers to give unpaid leave to women who are the victims of domestic violence. Under the amendment, offered by Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), states would have been required to pay unemployment benefits to such victims. […] While stressing that he was sympathetic to the intent of Murray’s amendment, Mr. DeWine urged his colleagues to vote against it. ‘The passage of this amendment would kill the bill,’ he contended.” [Toledo Blade3/26/04]

DeWine Voted Against Providing $10 Million For Education About Emergency Contraceptives; For Making The Morning-After Pill Available To Survivors Of Sexual Assault.  In 2003, DeWine voted to oppose an amendment to make contraceptives more widely available through private health insurance and expand government health care for low-income pregnant women.  The amendment also made emergency contraceptives – known as the morning-after pill – available in hospital emergency rooms for victims of sexual assault. The measure would allow states to expand the States’ Children’s Health Insurance Program to include low-income pregnant women. It also would authorize $10 million for a program to educate public health organizations, providers and the public about the availability and effectiveness of emergency contraceptives; allow state public health agencies to apply for grants for further programs; require private health plans to cover prescription contraceptives and related medical services; and require hospitals to make emergency contraceptives and information about them available to rape victims. [S 3, 3/11/03, #45;Associated Press, 3/11/03]