Ohio Democrats file public records suit in Ohio Supreme Court

GavelThursday afternoon, the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court to press Ohio Governor, John Kasich and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor to release public records.

The records in question are written communication between employees who resigned from Taylor’s office earlier in the year.

Democrats specifically requested records for correspondence between Taylor and her former chief-of-staff, Laura Johnson. They also seek correspondence between Johnson and assistant Heather Brandt in the events leading to the resignation of both staff members in early June.

Leadership of the Democratic Party said Kasich’s office had acknowledged receipt of the records request with an emailed letter. His staff has since decided to refuse to comply with the request and release the details.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman, Chris Redfern said Governor Kasich’s administration has stonewalled public records requests since he’s been in office. He rarely speaks to the press. Redfern pointed out that Kasich’s unwillingness to provide transparency or accountability of his administration is unconscionable.

He said it is their duty to the taxpayers of Ohio to release the records immediately so Ohioans can find out why these staffers left, including one who cited a “hostile work environment” in Taylor’s office.

It has been noted that the employees resigned after officials had discovered time cards that failed to match up with their parking records. They had essentially spent more time away from the office than their schedules had allowed. This was written in a letter by Taylor to the Ohio inspector general on June 5.

Each employee had submitted resignations letters the same week Taylor requested an investigation by the inspector general. Brandt reiterated in her resignation letter that a hostile work environment was the reason she had decided to resign.

On June 9, democrats had asked for the correspondence between the pair. They had also asked for correspondence between Johnson and Taylor from June 1 of 2013 to June 6, 2014. They had also asked for Taylor’s schedule according to the Democrat’s filed complaint.

Kasich’s office had followed up with their request a month later by providing Taylor’s work schedule. Republican leadership had requested clarification on what was meant by correspondence.

The Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director, Brian Hester said it was using the definition set forth by the Department of Administrative Services. Governor Kasich’s office stated that the request was currently processing. When Hester had followed up ten days later, Kasich’s Assistant Chief Counsel, Kevin O’Donnell Stanek said that the request had went longer than a year and there wasn’t much clarity of what correspondence was sought. The request had been too broad and they would not be able to comply with the request.

Similarly, the Ohio Republican Party filed suit in June against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald. It was their effort to force the Cuyaghoga County executive to release his key card data. FitzGerald has repeatedly refused the request. He continuously stated that releasing the information in question would pose a security risk and, due to this, would have to decline to comply.