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Friday, July 29, 2005

OH-02: Culture of Corruption Surrounds Jean Schmidt

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Ann Driscoll's MyDD diary:

Accusations surfaced against Schmidt's campaign managers Brett Buerck and Kyle Sisk and Larry Householder, the disgraced former House speaker. Ignoring the preference for officeholders to remain neutral during primaries, Householder actively raised funds for Schmidt and worked in conjunction with Buerck and Sisk, who were his top aids at the time. The three Republican politicos were accused of threatening lobbyists, engaging in unscrupulous negotiations, and running baseless smear television ads through a purportedly neutral PAC during the Schmidt campaign.

Threatening Lobbyists

The allegations began when Schmidt's opponent, Tom Niehaus publicly acknowledged a call that he had received from an apologetic lobbyist. The lobbyist told Niehaus that Householder had contacted him and threatened his lobby with unfavorable legislation if he did not contribute to the Schmidt campaign. About six other lobbyists informed Niehaus of similar threats made by Householder or his chief of staff, Brett Buerck.

Kenneth Blackwell, who launched an investigation into the campaign, stated that there is "a direct correlation" between campaign contributions and legislation in the House. But Blackwell, the official that many blame for Ohio voting irregularities in the 2004 presidential election, may have motivations of his own. Around the same time, a 109-page report written by Buerck, Sisk, and Householder's spokesman David Crum surfaced that detailed a scheme to destroy Blackwell's political career.

Smear Ads

The non-profit PAC Ohio Taxpayers Association spent $120,000 running smear television commercials against Niehaus, claiming that he was "anti-tax payer" and that Schmidt was "pro-tax payer." The ads attacked Niehaus for voting "to raise sales, income, gas and cigarette taxes." But voting records show that Schmidt voted identically on those exact same taxes. The Enquirer acknowledged in their endorsement for Schmidt in the District 2 primary that the ads "distorted the two candidates' records on taxes." Scott Pullins, the head of the Ohio Taxpayers Association admitted that Householder and Sisk raised money for the group and that at least some of that money was used to produce the ads.

I'm sure some google monkeys might have fun searching on this.

Posted at 04:55 PM in Ohio, Scandals | Technorati