Hamilton County reporter
Enquirer statehouse bureau
Cincinnati City Hall reporter
Enquirer Washington bureau
DeWine criticized for Ney fundraiser
Sen. Mike DeWine
got some heat Friday from Democrats over his plans to attend a fundraiser this weekend for Rep. Bob Ney
, who has been linked to the unfolding scandal surrounding former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff
Abramoff has pleaded guilty to using a free golf trip to Scotland and other gifts in an attempt to bribe Ney
and others for official favors. Ney has denied any wrongdoing and has complied with a Justice Department subpoena for documents.
So Democrats called on DeWine
to cancel his appearance at Ney's fundraiser.
"The people of Ohio are tired of the scandal, corruption and cronyism they see in Columbus and Washington," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
spokesman Karl Frisch
said. "Sen. DeWine’s decision to raise money for one of the principle architects of that corruption is proof positive that he’s part of the problem. Mike DeWine should cancel the fundraiser and join with Democrats in fighting for the return of ethics, honesty and accountability to our government."
DeWine told the Enquirer
that he's known Ney for a long time and he supports him. He said he was not planning to cancel his appearance at the fundraiser.
"I've known Bob Ney - he’s been a friend of mine - since he was in the Legislature and I was lieutenant governor," DeWine said. "He and I worked on things back then. He’s a friend of mine."
By the way, recognize the name "Karl Frisch"? Frisch formerly worked as campaign spokesman
for Democrat Paul Hackett
, an Indian Hill lawyer and Iraq war veteran who dropped out
of Ohio's U.S. Senate primary earlier this year.
Portman mentioned for new job
Ever since President Bush
replaced White House Chief of Staff Andy Card
with budget director Josh Bolten
, speculation has been rampant about who will replace Treasury Secretary John Snow
, who is rumored to be leaving in the next couple of months.
One name that keeps coming up is that of former area Congressman Rob Portman
, who has served for the last year as the U.S. trade representative. Portman’s name has been circulated for this post before, but now that he’s already in the Bush administration, the suggestion carries more weight.
What does the Terrace Park Republican have to say? Not much, actually.
Portman spokeswoman Christin Baker
said Snow is “doing a good job” promoting the economy and that he’s a “critical part of the president’s economic team.”
She declined to say whether Portman had been asked to take the job or whether he was considering it, instead explaining that Portman has “an aggressive agenda to open markets” and that he’s “focused” on the current Doha round of global trade talks and free trade deals in 14 countries.
Schmidt ad now on TV
Rep. Jean Schmidt's
re-election campaign just announced that her first TV commercial of this year's campaign hit the airwaves at 7 a.m. today.
"Beginning today the voters of the second district will begin seeing the first of a series of television commercials featuring Jean Schmidt," her campaign announced in a release e-mailed to reporters.
"We are very happy with the way the spot has been received by the public as well as our supporters," said Schmidt campaign manager Allen Freeman
The 30-second biographical spot starts with Schmidt sitting in an easy chair talking to voters about things important to her: "My faith. My family. My community. My country. Those are my priorities."
The ad jumps to a shot of her walking down a wooded lane with husband Peter and daughter Emilie. On the screen are the words: "Lifelong Ohio resident."
Schmidt is then shown on her family farm in Clermont County with her husband as her voice continues: "This is where I grew up, where I learned the values that shape my life: Work hard, pray hard and give it your best shot. That's all anyone can ask."
The ad cuts to Schmidt at her desk writing, reading and talking on the phone.
She is then shown working with her staff, as she says: "Some people try to avoid political labels, and they don't tell you everything about a person. Still, I'm always proud to let you know - I'm a conservative."
On the screen are the words "proven conservative."
The ad ends with Schmidt telling viewers that she approved the spot.
Schmidt's opponent in the GOP primary May 2 is Bob McEwen
, a former congressman from southern Ohio. McEwen released a radio ad
a few weeks ago but has not yet gone up on TV.
McEwen's turn to release a poll
Two days after Rep. Jean Schmidt's
campaign touted a poll
showing she has a 25-point lead over GOP primary rival Bob McEwen
, a new poll commissioned by the McEwen campaign shows the two are just two points apart.
That's right. The new poll, from Zogby International
, shows that three weeks before the May 2 GOP primary, the race between McEwen and Schmidt is in what the McEwen camp calls "a statistical dead heat."
The poll of 400 likely Republican voters, conducted on April 5-6, shows Schmidt with 35 percent to McEwen's 33 percent. Also in the poll: 3 percent chose someone else and 29 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of error ofplus or minus 5 percentage ponts.
The poll also showed McEwen with high favorables across the district, among both men and women. McEwen’s favorable/unfavorable rating was 46 percent to 13 percent among men, 43 percent to 12 percent among women, 42 percent to 12 percent in Hamilton County, 44 percent to 10 percent in Clermont County, and 41 percent to 19 percent in Warren County. The poll gave incumbent Schmidt a job approval rating of just 41 p0ercent.
The poll also indicated that 59 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who has falsely claimed education credentials
not earned and 63 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who has falsely claimed endorsements
from other officials. The poll showed McEwen in the lead in Adams, Brown, Hamilton, Scioto, and Warren Counties.
“This poll, conducted person-to-person, shows that the race is a statistical dead heat, with strong favorables for Bob McEwen and not-so-strong job approval ratings for the incumbent. This poll also shows that a majority of voters are particularly concerned about issues of character,” McEwen spokesman Michael Harlow
said. “Furthermore, we have seen a strong shift in our favor in terms of endorsements, contributors, and volunteers.”UPDATE:
Here's what Schmidt campaign spokesman Allen Freeman
had to say about the poll:
"This is a classic reaction. Someone else comes up with a poll that has positive numbers and you go out and do your own poll. This is a typical strategy and this is what we expected," he said. "Our internal polling has been showing that we’re up by 20 points."
Freeman said based on that, he's comfortable saying that McEwen's new numbers are "no where near accurate."
"You can ask a question any way you want to get any answer you want," he said.
For clarity, here are some of the questions that were asked (in this order):
If the Republican primary election for Congress were held today, and the candidates were Jean Schmidt and Bob McEwen, for whom would you vote?
Thinking about incumbent Jean Schmidt's work as your representative in Congress, how would you rate the job she is doing?
Are you proud of Jean Schmidt as your congressional representative, or are you embarrassed because of her?
Would it make you (more likely, less likely, etc.) to vote for Jean Schmidt if you knew that she had wrongly stated that she had won political endorsements from individuals or groups when those people and groups had actually never endorsed her?
Would it make you (more likely, less likely, etc.) to vote for Jean Schmidt if you knew that she had wrongly stated that she had earned two college degrees when she had actually earned only one?UPDATE:
Read all of the poll's questions here
Read the story about this poll that ran in Saturday's Enquirer here
Q: When is a debate not a debate?
A: When it's in Blue Ash, apparently.
The latest round in the back-and-forth between the campaigns of Jean Schmidt
and Bob McEwen
over debates came Thursday afternoon when the Schmidt campaign issued a notice saying they had agreed to an April 19 half-hour televised debate on WLWT (Channel 5).
This came a week or so after Schmidt pulled out of a debate sponsored by the Anderson Township Republican Club. Her campaign manager, Allen Freeman
, claimed the pro-McEwen crowd in Anderson was laying in wait to do a number on her, just like they did on Pat DeWine
in the special GOP primary last spring.
This left the Schmidt camp eager to show that they are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with McEwen - thus, Thursay's press release, in which Freeman crows that his candidate is now committed to no less than four "face to face debates'' with McEwen - the WLWT affair, an April 30 appearance on WKRC-TV's Newsmakers show, a meeting in front of the Dayton Daily News and an April 12 event at the Blue Ash Republican Club.
The two half-hour TV debates will, in fact, be face to face encounters. The Dayton editorial board meeting will be whatever the Dayton Daily News wants it to be; and, at any rate, the voting public is not invited.
The Blue Ash Republican Club meeting is nothing like the "face to face debate'' described in the Schmidt news release. Freeman acknowledged as much to the Enquirer Thursday afternoon.
What it is is the political equivalent of "open mike night'' at your corner bar - candidates show up at the Blue Ash Recreation Center and get up on their hind legs to deliver a short stump speech to the GOP faithful. No interaction between the candidates; no debate.
Long experience has convinced us that politicians are more interested in debating about debates than in debates themselves.
WCPO-TV Poll - McEwen's response
spokesman Michael Harlow
over the poll
showing GOP primary opponent Rep. Jean Schmidt
has a 25-point lead over McEwen:
"Survey USA's computer-voice recording survey is not credible. When conducting an automated poll, there is no way to verify who the respondent is the intended voter. Is the respondent really the registered voter the recording was supposed to poll? Is the voter actually going to vote in the Republican primary? Is the person being polled really a voter at all or a 10 year old having fun at Survey USA's expense? Any poll with only 4% undecided cannot be taken at face value.
"What this bogus poll does point out is that the voters need to hear and to question both Bob McEwen and Jean Schmidt in debates held in multiple public forums. We stand by our call for seven debates in seven counties. Conducting these debates allows the voter to hear the vision for the future both candidates have and allows them to focus on the issues, not the personal folibles of any one candidate.
"The feeling amongst Republicans district wide is that the momentum is shifting to Bob McEwen. Bob has an ever growing list of endorsements, supporters, volunteers, and contributors. It is clear that Republican voters want an experienced voice in Congress that commands respect and that speaks to the needs of the district."
DeWine. Sex blog. Lawsuit.
There's actually a connection among these terms.
Former Sen. Mike DeWine
staffer Jessica Cutler
is embroiled in a lawsuit over a blog about her sexual exploits that she wrote while on the Republican senator's staff.
Cutler was fired once the blog became public. But one of her sexual partners, who was DeWine's counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and who was identified on Cutler's blog as "RS," sued her for invasion of privacy.
to read an Associated Press story about the latest development in the lawsuit.
When in trouble, release a positive poll!
According to a new poll released today from Survey USA, it’s possible that these two complaints
that have been filed with the Ohio Elections Commission
over Rep. Jean Schmidt’s
and educational degree
claims won’t matter.
The poll, which was done for WCPO-TV
, shows that the Miami Township Republican holds a “massive” lead over Republican Bob McEwen
, who is challenging Schmidt in the May 2 GOP primary election.According to the poll
, 55 percent of respondents say they plan to vote for Schmidt, 30 percent say they’ll vote for McEwen, 11 percent say they’ll vote for another candidate, and 4 percent are undecided.
“We are very excited by the WCPO Poll. Our polling is trending slightly better, but we are happy to have the public confirmation of the numbers,” Campaign Manager Allen Freeman
said in a glowing statement about the poll.
McEwen spokesman Michael Harlow
had a different response: “We would question the accuracy of any voice-automated polling, first of all,” he said. “I also would question the accuracy of any poll that shows four percent undecided voters. That’s unheard of, really.”
This poll was conducted by random telephone calls from March 31 to April 2 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.
It survey included 1,500 adults, of which just 412 said they were Republicans who are likely to vote in the primary. (That’s a significant point. It means that two-thirds of the people who make up this poll aren’t going to vote in the election that the poll is purporting to measure!)
That didn’t stop Freeman from continuing to extol the beauties of this poll:
“Clearly Congresswoman Schmidt is now very well known and extremely popular. Her opponent only leads her among anti-war liberals. This is a very bad day for the McEwen camp,” Freeman said.
More Freeman: “Jean Schmidt will win this primary by a huge margin. We will win Anderson Township where our polling has us up by almost 50 percent. There is no where McEwen can hide.”
Much ado about a Chevy Tahoe
This from reporter Jennifer Edwards:
The Butler County Auditor’s race has gotten so testy that one candidate called a press conference today to announce he’s digging into the mileage records of the other candidate’s county vehicle.
Challenger Roger Reynolds
, Liberty Township’s fiscal officer, aired his latest charges against Auditor Kay Rogers
. He questions whether she accurately reported her mileage of a county vehicle, a 2001 Chevy Tahoe she no longer drives.
He called for the state auditor’s office to investigate and make sure all taxpayer dollars that went to her for mileage were deserved.
Rogers, auditor since 1995, denied his accusations and released a few of her own. She filed an election complaint Tuesday against Reynolds, alleging his two commercials on Time Warner cable were inaccurate.
The tiff was the latest episode in an ugly race that also has included other accusations and denials that resulted in state investigations.
Last month, a Hamilton man working in Reynolds’ campaign, Art Sauerwein
, also called for the state auditor’s office and state ethics commission to investigate Rogers’ use of that 2001 Tahoe.
Sauerwein claims Rogers misused the vehicle in a variety of ways, including driving it for personal reasons, failing to report damages from a May 2004 collision and charging $1,250 in repairs to the county as “other expenses.”
Rogers denies those accusations, too. But she’s not driving the Tahoe anymore.
Rogers says she chose this year to drive her personal car on county business to help the county’s budget constraints.
Rep. Schmidt made false statements in 2005 campaign
There is probable cause that U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt
made false statements last year when it was widely reported she had two undergraduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati, a bipartisan panel of the Ohio Elections Commission found today.
But in a separate 4-0 vote, the elections panel found that Schmidt, a Republican candidate in the May 2 primary, did not continue to make false statements during her 2006 campaign. Her chief of staff said last week that Schmidt completed coursework for a bachelor's degree in education but never collected the second diploma.Philip C. Richter
, the commission's executive director, said he is unsure how quickly a hearing on the evidence can be scheduled. Both sides are seeking to subpoena witnesses.
A separate probable cause hearing is scheduled for April 27 on a complaint by James P. Urling
of Cincinnati that Schmidt falsely reported an endorsement by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot
and others in campaign literature and on her internet Web site. The commission found probable cause on that complaint last Wednesday.
Read Thursday's Enquirer
for details on today's Elections Commission hearing.
Strickland strong, Ohioans surly in statewide poll
Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland
leads both Republican gubernatorial candidates in the latest independent public-opinion poll released today.
A survey of 1,075 Ohio voters, taken Feb. 20 to March 25 by the University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss
Institute of Applied Politics, found Strickland leading Secretary of State Ken Blackwell
by about 38 percent to 33 percent, with 29 percent undecided.
A matchup between Strickland and Attorney General Jim Petro
found Strickland leading by 32 percent to 28 percent with nearly 40 percent undecided. Blackwell and Petro face each other in a May 2 primary election.
In the GOP primary matchup, Blackwell led Petro by about 39 percent to 32 percent with nearly 29 percent undecided.
Strickland was favored over former state Rep. Bryan Flannery
in the Democratic primary, 48 percent to 8.5 percent with 43 percent undecided.
In other questions:
-- 59 percent of all respondents prefer Democrats take control of state government.
-- About 89 percent said they felt corruption is a serious problem or somewhat of a problem in Ohio, down slightly from the last Akron Buckeye Poll in November.
-- 64 percent said the state is on the wrong track.
-- Nearly 52 percent said they had a mostly or very favorable opinion of religious groups that seek to restore traditional morality to state government.
During a Statehouse news conference, John Green
, director of the Bliss Institute, said the poll indicates a prospect for "a very close race in the fall.''
"There is a great deal of discontent out there,'' Green said. "A lot of that discontent has not been focused on a particular candidate.''
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
More details on the Akron poll can be found at www.uakron.edu/bliss/research.php
and in Thursday's Enquirer.
County Administrator chewed out
Welcome to Hamilton County politics, Patrick Thompson.
Thompson, the county administrator hired in January, was the subject of a royal chewing out today by Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune
after Portune said he learned about a plan Thompson was putting together to rent jail beds from other counties.
Portune was irate, and made it clear during today's commission meeting that he found out about the plan not from the county administration but "accidentally" from Sheriff Simon Leis Jr
. as part of another conversation Portune was having with the sheriff.
That quickly degenerated into a war of words with all three commissioners talking over each other.
Portune asked Thompson for details of the proposed deal under which Hamilton County will rent jail space from Butler County and perhaps from Clermont County. Portune then asked several questions about the plan.Commissioner Phil Heimlich
then announced he was having a resolution typed up that would direct Thompson to finalize the deal with Butler County. An 11:30 a.m. courthouse press conference also was called by Heimlich and Commissioner Pat DeWine
to announce the details.
Portune, bothered that he hadn't been told of the two months of work Thompson and county administration put in on trying to finalize the plan, asked Thompson, "When were you intending to bring these details forward? After the press conference?"
Thompson tried to explain how he has been working on the plan since almost his first day on the job, trying to address the problem of jail overcrowding at the Hamilton County Justice Center that has resulted in almost 9,000 people either being released early or not jailed at all since 2004.
"We've never discussed this anywhere as a solution," Portune interjected. "... The fact is that the county administrator works for all three commissioners. I don't know why I am finding out about this from the sheriff and not the county administrator."
Thompson didn't respond -- but Heimlich did.
Heimlich told Portune he'd asked Thompson individually to work on the issue only to find out that DeWine also had individually asked Thompson the same thing.
"It's nothing complicated," Heimlich said.
"Nothing complicated at all," Portune mocked.
"Now," Portune added to Heimlich, who was waiting for the resolution to finalize the agreement with Butler County, "you're trying to formalize and legitimize what has been going on for six months.
"I'd like to know what else the administration is working on that I don't know about."
Portune angrily ordered Thompson to give him a list by 5 p.m. today of all of the projects he and his staff are currently working on.
"Come on," DeWine answered. "What we're talking about is one of the biggest issues for the last year."
Instead of crying about who should get credit for the plan, DeWine suggested to Portune, all three commissioners should try to make it happen to prevent criminals from walking the streets.
Portune then tried to say something but DeWine refused to let him, leading to all three commissioners raising their voices about whose turn it was to talk.
"We all ought to be praising the county administrator for the work he's done," DeWine said.
Portune would love to, he said, if he knew about it.
The resolution was later adopted.
Thompson was hired by a 2-1 vote from commissioners with Portune -- the lone Democrat on the commission -- casting the no vote.
Boehner, Boehner, Boehner
Where to start? There’s just too much to say about House Majority Leader John Boehner
First off, check out these golf tees that the West Chester Republican is passing out. They’re in a large glass bowl as you enter his new leadership suite in the U.S. Capitol. They come in every color, including “Kermit the frog green,” which, in case you were wondering, is the color of tie that Boehner wore today.Green is actually Boehner’s signature color.
If you recall, that’s the color of sweater he wore
on his first day as majority leader. It’s also the color that several members of his staff wore on the day he was elected majority leader. And, it’s the color of his campaign signs
Here’s what Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference today about tough budget negotiations he's dealing with in the House:
“This is probably the toughest week that I have had, this coming week, since I was elected majority leader. ... I don't think I ever took two Advil in the morning before I came to work, but I did today. And I was looking in my closet for a tie and I thought, you know, I need something to cheer me up, so I decided that I was going to cheer myself up with a bright tie.”
What else came up during Boehner’s news conference today? Well, the usual issues: budget, immigration and campaign finance reform. He also complimented Cleveland Plain Dealer
reporter Sabrina Eaton
on a “nice haircut,” which is better than what he told another reporter
a few weeks ago.
He also talked at length about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
, who announced that he’s retiring from Congress. DeLay has been indicted in Texas on charges of campaign finance fraud and linked to convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff
“I think Tom was facing some very difficult pressures in his race. I think that he understood that it was becoming a referendum on him instead of on the ideas between the two parties, and I think he did a very honorable thing by stepping aside.”
Here’s what he had to say about Ohio Rep. Bob Ney
, who also has been linked to Abramoff:
“He has his hands full, but he believes he is doing well, and, at this point, that is as much as I know about it.”
While we’re on the subject, here’s what Ney had to say about DeLay (Full story in tomorrow's Enquirer):
“Our names rhyme, but I am a different human being. He has different reasons for
resigning. I wish him the best. … I am not resigning.”
DeLay’s announcement comes after his former aide, Tony Rudy
, pleaded guilty on Friday for conspiring with Abramoff to bribe officials, such as Ney and DeLay. Boehner was asked if it’s possible that his staff would do something similar. Here’s what he said:
“At the end of the day, the members are responsible for what happens in their offices and are responsible for their staff. Clearly, operations as big as, you know, as a committee or a leadership office, you have got a lot of people doing a lot of things; and so it is important, I think, to set the right tone with your staff and yourself about what the rules of the game are. And, clearly, there were several people on -- former staffers for Tom who ran off the road, and it is sad and unfortunate.”
In case anyone cases, Boehner had lunch with new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten
yesterday. It was in the White House dining room. Boehner ate a chicken quesadilla. “It was good, as a matter of fact,” Boehner said. He was not asked to be Treasury secretary.
Still wondering where those golf tees came from?
Here's what Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden
had to say about them: “Golf tees? I thought those were candies. I wondered why they tasted funny.”
“They were a gift from another congressman. Not sure who,” Madden said.
First her parade car stalled. Then she faced accusations that, as Rep. Tom Brinkman
said, “She snuck into the parade!”
Yes, we're talking about Rep. Jean Schmidt.
Those of you reading the Opening Day blog might have found this nugget:At 12:01, we had the first parade snafu. A red Corvette in Congresswoman Jean Schmidt's entourage stalled in the middle of the intersection of 5th and Sycamore. Six or eight floats had to go around, until others in her entourage could push it out of the way, and get it rolling back down 5th.Most of the other politicians were on foot. Cincinnati Vice-Mayor Jim Tarbell was pushing a peanut cart and dressed as Peanut Jim. City Councilman Chris Monzel and Congressman Steve Chabot were on foot and walking with their families.
But as Reporter Quan Truong
reports, Schmidt's lousy day wasn't over yet.
Several Schmidt critics accused her of jumping into the parade without paying the required fee.
“As an elected official, they should have some integrity,” said Brinkman, a Schmidt critic who has endorsed her GOP primary opponent, Bob McEwen.
Brinkman recalled observing Schmidt enter the parade.
After consulting Mike Luken
, of the parade committee, Brinkman checked the finalized parade list and alleged Schmidt did not make the contribution required to participate in the Opening day celebration.
Luken admitted there was speculation about Schmidt’s presence but refused to comment further, requesting the Enquirer drop the issue.
In the end, Schmidt’s campaign manager, Allen Freeman
, responded to the accusations with a check number for $75 paid to the Findlay Market Association.
“We are paid in full,” Freeman said. “I think it’s another one of those issues that our opponent keeps trying to gin up and it really amounts to a whole lot of nothing.”
Parade Chairman, Neil Luken
, could not be reached for comment.
McEwen picks up conservative backers
Republican Bob McEwen
, a former congressman from southern Ohio, has picked up support some conservative support.
The latest comes from the Battleground PAC, an area political action committee that has set out to choose the "right" Republicans. The group announced
that it's endorsing McEwen over sitting Rep. Jean Schmidt
, who McEwen is challenging in the GOP primary May 2.
"We are proud to join the impressive and extensive list of people and organizations who have recognized all that Bob has to offer and our proud to stand with him in his return to Congress," Battleground PAC executive director Tim Holloway said.
Also named on the group's "comprehensive listing of conservative candidates who deserve your support and your vote" is Republican Ken Blackwell
McEwen already has been endorsed by Phil and Vickie Burress
of Citizens for Community Values
(CCV), a local group that promotes Judeo-Christian moral values and is affiliated with Dr. James Dobson and Focus on the Family.
Dobson also has endorsed
Live blogging Bush visit and Opening Day
The Enquirer is live blogging Opening Day and the Bush visit here...
Opening Day led to Every Day
While Opening Day is as good as a holiday in Cincinnati, it has an even more special meaning for Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune.
Portune will attend today’s game with his wife, Angie
, and their children -- a tradition that started before there was a family.
“Our first date in 1985 was at a Reds game,” said Portune, who has vivid memories of that day.
“They were playing the Montreal Expos and there were three snow delays. In the 8th inning, the Reds were up by four runs and the third snow delay began and I asked Angie if she wanted to leave, whereupon she says incredulously, ‘What?! You want to leave before the last out!?’
"I knew then this was a match made in heaven.”