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Posts Tagged ‘Governor’s Mansion’

Troopergate: Chillicothe Gazette Slams Gov. Strickland for Smearing IG Tom Charles

May 27th, 2010 Matt Comments off

Stinging words from their editorial page:

Which Ted Strickland do we believe?

There’s the Ohio governor, who upon being elected to the job, called reappointed Inspector General Tom Charles to his job and called him a man of integrity and accountability.

Since then, Charles has handled, admirably, investigations into disgraced former Attorney General Marc Dann, a probe of database information taken from an intern’s car and allegations that the Ohio Highway Patrol was not properly ticketing its own. And that’s just naming a few.

Based on those probes, Strickland had no problem when Charles began a probe into a canceled contraband sting at the governor’s residence in January. In fact, Strickland told a reporter he believed Charles would conduct a fair investigation and could be impartial.

That was, until the report came out.

When that report said then-public safety director Cathy Collins-Taylor was less than truthful when discussing her role in calling off the sting, a different side of Strickland appeared.

Suddenly, the governor was questioning the investigation and “strongly” rejected Charles’ recommendation. He stood by silently as Democrats attacked Charles’ character by saying he was upset because his wife, a highway patrol captain, didn’t get the top job at the patrol.

The governor also has been oddly silent as Collins-Taylor’s attorney said Charles should be investigated and other Democrats piled on.

Finally, instead of focusing on key changes that could help restore some integrity to the embattled public safety agencies involved in this mess, Strickland seems more content on picking a fight. In a spiteful move, he gave Collins-Taylor a job on the state parole board — a final nose-thumbing toward legislators.

All of which leads to a huge gap in credibility for Strickland and his re-election bid. Is he the guy who likes Tom Charles and trusts his decisions? Or the one who only likes Charles’ decisions when they go his way?

Troopergate: Tougher Rules for Inmates at Governor’s Mansion

May 24th, 2010 Matt Comments off

From Paul Aker on Channel 10:

So much scandal could have been avoided if Strickland wouldn’t have marched into a meeting and demanded that safety protocols NOT be improved and then lied about it.

Troopergate: Gov. Ted Strickland Lied About Not Wanting Inmate Safety Protocols Reformed

May 20th, 2010 Matt View Comments

I remember posting this exciting video from Marc Kovac in February, but now that I’m slowly reading through the large pile of testimony, I think this has new significance:

Here is the relevent transcript (starts at about the 2:00 mark):

Paul Aker: At that point, did the correctional institute at Pickaway say that they were concerned about safety, and perhaps you directed that nothing should change?

Gov. Strickland: uh, Let me tell you that no one from the correctional institute has ever indicated to me any concern about safety. And, if they indicated that to you I’m just curious as to why they would indicate it to you but not to me.

Aker: Did you ever tell anyone not to change any protocols at the mansion regarding safety?

Strickland: Regarding safety? Uh, tell me what sort of safety protocols you’re talking about.

Aker: Well, after the gentlman fell through the window as I understand it, there was quite a meeting that went on between various leaders of safety and other leaders at the patrol and the DRC- and it came to your attention and you directed that- No, in fact the program should remain as it is.

Strickland: You’re talking about things that I have no knowledge of. You need to be more specific with me- When you say there were meetings, what was discussed at those meetings? In regards to safety, what do you mean by safety concerns?

Aker: I guess, specifically, did you ever tell anyone not to change any protocols?

Strickland: What protocols?

Aker: Not to change the program- to leave it just as it is.

Strickland: Listen, this program started under Gov. James Rhodes, and it has continued pretty much unchanged since the Rhodes administration. It’s a good program. It’s provides a great benefit to the state of Ohio and saves the state of Ohio significant sums of money. And, if you will bring me a specific protocol that I did or did not ask to be changed I will respond to you.

But on pages 23-24 of 66 of Major Robert Booker’s interview with the Inspector General’s office, it is quite clear that Ted Strickland found out about such a meeting, and while in transit to the State House had his driver return him to the Mansion to demand no changes are made, even after serious concerns about safety were raised:

Inspector General’s office: Regarding  Lt. Mannion, throughout the time period he’s been the commander of the EPU, has he ever expressed concerns to you about an operational issues through the chain of command?

Booker: I think he might have I’m trying to remember. When we had this inmate injury [sic] himself back in 2008, we gathered together a meeting to discuss inmate supervision ’cause that was a concern. We have no one from DRC on grounds to supervise these inmates. It’s all left to the DAS employee, the residence manager. And what had occurred was this inmate had to be transported, we only had one Trooper on grounds. That Trooper could not abandon his post to transport this inmate. So it was left with Bexley P.D. So the concern that we had was okay, let’s get the people around the table. Let’s talk about these issues, about supervision; what we can do about it. So we called a meeting: S/Lt. Danny Springs who was at that time over Capital Operations which includes the Statehouse, EPU and the residence; myself, Sgt. Yolder-Ma— uh, huh.. I’m trying to think…

IG: Mulder-Yeagley.

Booker: Yes. The Warden of– at Pickaway Correctional Institution, I believe is Al Lazarus. And there may have been others there. But we’re in the dining room at the Governor’s residence and we’re talking about this. We’re talking about this issue and what we can do for the security and what can we do in regards to protocols, notification; if we have someone injured, who gets the call, what do they do? What’s going on? Lt. Mannion was not a part of the meeting but he expressed concerns (inaudible) that same end. And he and the Governor departed the residence on the way to the Statehouse. While in transit, the Governor departed the residence on the way to the Statehouse. While in transit, the Governor asked questions about okay, “what’s this meeting about?” “Well, talking about the inmate program.” “Inmate program?” They turned around and came right back and the Governor talked to us about how important this inmate program was and it’s very, very important for the rehabilitation of the inmates, and he doesn’t want to see anything happen to this program. And, of course, he was not aware totally that we were talking about security and protocols. And he left and I met with him and I says, “Governor, we were talking about security issues in regards to supervision of inmates.” He said, “Well, I think the program should stay exactly the way it is.” That’s what he said. I sad, “Fine. Alright, no change. No change in the program.” I went back into the room and that’s what I told everyone there at that meeting that we’re going to keep it the way it is; that in regards to supervision the residence manager would still be responsible for the inmates.

Obviously Major Booker wouldn’t lie about such a meeting, as there are far too many people named as being part of the meeting and it’s easy to verify. So why wouldn’t Gov. Strickland remember such a dramatic turn-around on his way to the office to stop a meeting about the inmate program safety rules?

And, more importantly, why would it be so terrible to have increased safety when there are inmates involved? Clearly, contraband was being smuggled through the Governor’s mansion… but with their close proximity to alcohol, hammers, torches, razors, et cetera- Why would the Governor of Ohio focus so much attention on such a program? Just what is he hiding?

Inspector General’s Report: Director Cathy Collins-Taylor and Gov. Strickland’s Security Chief Lied

April 29th, 2010 Matt Comments off

Inspector General Report Highway Patrol

What to Expect from Today’s Inspector General’s Report on Strickland’s Troopergate

April 29th, 2010 Matt Comments off

From Channel 10′s Paul Aker:

Tomorrow is Judgment Day for Kent Markus?

April 28th, 2010 Matt Comments off

Laura Bischoff has the news:

An Inspector General’s report, to be released Thursday, April 29, is expected to determine whether the Strickland administration interfered with a planned sting by the Ohio Highway Patrol at the governor’s mansion.

In January, prison officials learned of a plan by an inmate working at the residence to have his wife drop a “six-pack” at “Red’s House.” At the time, they didn’t know what “six-pack” referred to, but learned it was tobacco — banned by prison rules.

The sting was canceled by the patrol’s top command, including Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Cathy Collins-Taylor, a Strickland appointee.

The change in plans triggered an investigation by state Inspector General Tom Charles, hearings by the GOP-controlled Senate Criminal Justice Committee and enormous speculation as to whether Collins-Taylor canceled it for safety’s sake or to avoid the potential embarrassment of a drug bust at the governor’s house.

I believe Laura has her facts wrong about the “six pack” and it has never been shown to have been tobacco. The illegal drop was almost certainly drugs and I’m not sure why she is being so quick to take the Sandy Theis assumptions as fact.

Kent Markus, Strickland’s lawyer who has been at the center of the Joe the Plumber scandal, the giving drivers licenses to illegals scandal, unbid Interlot scandal at the Ohio Lottery Commission, and clearly used heavy-handed illegal influence on a state highway patrol investigation. No way would Markus and the Strickland administration would be able to weather so many scandals if he was a Republican… this is far worse than anything Gov. Taft did with simply not reporting golf!

This report will be fascinating, as will Senator Grendell’s committee hearings next week.

Shady Sandy Theis Seems Awfully Certain Troopergate Doesn’t Involve Drugs

March 29th, 2010 Matt View Comments

So who are you going to believe? Maj. Robert Booker or Ted Strickland’s official campaign bone cruncher?

Maj. Booker’s Testimony in the Ohio Senate

March 25th, 2010 Matt Comments off

From troopertotrooper.com:

Troopergate Trickles Into Radioactive Phase, Kent Markus Put on Suicide Watch

March 25th, 2010 Matt Comments off

From Reginald Fields in The Plain Dealer:

State Highway Patrol officers testify that sting operation was called off to avoid embarrassing governor

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three high-ranking Highway Patrol officials on Wednesday accused Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration of blocking an undercover operation at the governor’s mansion in January to protect Strickland from political embarrassment.

The administration immediately responded, saying patrol detectives still today have no idea what they were even investigating that weekend so the operation was killed to protect the governor and the officers.

Patrol officers were about to execute what they assumed was a drug bust outside the governor’s suburban-Columbus home Jan. 10 while Strickland hosted a dinner party inside. Instead they were told to drop their sting and warn their suspect not to go through with her plan.

“We were told that we should try to warn the suspect. That it would be better to try to prevent a crime,” said Maj. Robert Booker, who retired in February.

Booker said patrol superintendent Col. David Dicken ordered the sting stopped “because it is the governor’s residence and we have to keep this quiet.”

Prison officials had intercepted a letter in which an inmate, allowed to work a special detail at the Democratic governor’s mansion, had asked his wife to drop off a “six pack” at the back of the mansion.

“It was drugs. No doubt,” Booker said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the incident. He added that in 33 years with the patrol, “I’ve never seen this kind of interference with a criminal investigation.”[...]

Sen. Tim Grendell, a Republican who chairs the committee hosting the hearings, is not convinced. He believes it was drugs and at the very least the patrol should have been allowed to do its job rather than worry about the governor’s image.

“Politics has taken precedence over public safety,” Grendell said after the hearing. “I’m just flabbergasted by the steps made to ward off a criminal investigation.”

Grendell read an e-mail written by Collins-Taylor to the former prison director two days before the sting saying she was concerned about the “embarrassment to the boss.”

And from Randy Ludlow in The Columbus Dispatch:

In their decades of investigating crimes, State Highway Patrol Maj. Robert Booker and Capt. Michelle Henderson said they never had been summoned to such a meeting.

They said they never before had to defend their jurisdiction to investigate a criminal case under questioning from lawyers to an Ohio governor.

Markus met with the patrol investigators after a lobbyist close to Strickland met with the lawyer on behalf of the company under criminal investigation. Both the governor’s office and lobbyist Thomas Fries Sr. said no favors were asked or granted.

That changed on Sept. 10, 2008, when the top two lawyers to Gov. Ted Strickland and the Department of Public Safety’s chief legal counsel met with patrol investigators about a pending criminal case.

Kent Markus, the governor’s chief legal counsel; his No. 2, Jose Torres, and public-safety lawyer Joshua Engel said they had legitimate concerns about whether the patrol had authority to investigate and might be sued.

The lawyers also questioned the use of search warrants and discussed the desire for a patrol policy to notify state agency directors of the planned questioning of any of their employees by patrol investigators, Booker said.

Booker, who retired last month, testified today before the Ohio Senate Judiciary-Criminal Justice Committee, saying he ended his career asking himself: “Why do we have to get permission to do our job?”

Strickland’s office has said the inquiries by Markus, Torres and Engel were appropriate and did not constitute interference because the investigation – which still has not been resolved – proceeded.

The case involved the submission of alleged falsified documents to cover up the use of underpaid illegal immigrants to remodel a state-leased office building at 770 W. Broad St. for use as the state prison system’s headquarters.

The Governor’s office should have no ability to stop such an investigation, and now that they are being exposed- the coverup is looking worse than the crime.  This is a seriously bad news for Governor Strickland, and I cannot wait to see what details to the Inspector General come out with next month.

Fireworks and Rude Democrats in Senate’s Troopergate Hearings!

March 24th, 2010 Matt Comments off

The latest Update from Paul Aker from Channel 10 in Columbus. oh my!

Paul Aker: E-Mails Show Drug Sting May Have Been Stopped For Political Reasons

March 18th, 2010 Matt Comments off

Paul Aker, the talented investigative reporter from Channel 10, had a fascinating update on the 11pm news last night. This story of corruption is getting worse by the day for Gov. Strickland and Kent Markus:

TrooperGate Update: A Pattern of Corruption at the Governor’s Residence & the Heat on Kent Markus Continues!

March 4th, 2010 Matt Comments off

From Jim Provance in The Toledo Blade:

A former Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent said yesterday he and former colleagues are concerned that investigatory decisions are being increasingly influenced and politicized by the Strickland administration.

Former Col. Richard Collins, who was asked to resign along with his boss last year by Gov. Ted Strickland to resolve what was described as personality conflicts, told a Senate committee that December’s decision to scuttle a planned sting at the governor’s residence fits the pattern.

“I think we have a responsibility to stay independent,” said Mr. Collins, who spent more than 31 years with the patrol, six of them as commander of the patrol’s Findlay District.

“We offer, as we have other administrations, to provide overviews of criminal cases that we were involved in, but as far as how we proceed with those investigations, how we work with local elected prosecutors … that’s our responsibility, not the responsibility of the civilian authority, the lawyers, and the legal section,” he said.

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary-Criminal Justice Committee is holding hearings looking generally into allegations of interference by civilian officials in highway patrol investigations and specifically the decision to call off the sting at the governor’s mansion meant to catch someone in the act of slipping contraband to an inmate working there to convey back to the prison.

It remains unclear what the contraband was, although conjecture among officials has ranged from drugs to tobacco.

“Regardless of what that was or was not, once we knew that some kind of transaction was going to take place, I think it was the highway patrol’s responsibility to intervene,” Mr. Collins said.

He said that if he were still head of the highway patrol at the time, that sting would have proceeded as planned.

Superiors had raised safety concerns, questioning the wisdom of allowing the apparent transaction to take place on the grounds of the governor’s home. Ultimately, the woman who was planning the drop was tipped off.

“Would the Secret Service allow a package to be thrown over the White House wall if they didn’t know what it was?” Sen. Nina Turner (D., Cleveland) asked.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Tim Grendell (R., Chesterland), said he “intends to use the full investigatory powers of this committee to get to the bottom of what I believe is a growing stack of evidence that politics is overcoming public safety.”

Mr. Collins was promoted to superintendent by Henry Guzman, Mr. Strickland’s first director of public safety, with whom Mr. Collins admitted yesterday he often disagreed. The governor ultimately asked both for their resignations.

And in related news, Randy Ludlow at The Dispatch reports that Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe has questions for lobbyist Thomas Fries about his contract for The Anchor Companies, which is known for their hiring of illegal immigrants:

The office’s lawyer sent a letter to Fries yesterday inquiring about his lobbying on behalf of The Anchor Companies and the potential need to amend his registration and activity statements.

Fries, a long-time lobbyist and friend with Gov. Ted Strickland, began lobbying for the company on July 23, 2008, when he met with Kent Markus, the governor’s chief legal counsel. Yet, Fries did not disclose that activity to Bledsoe’s office.
Fries did not reveal he was lobbying the governor’s office on Anchor’s behalf until Sept. 10, 2008, when he and an Anchor lawyer filled out lobbyist registration statement.The statement arrived in Bledsoe’s office nine days later.

The Columbus real-state company had been accused of filing falsified records with the state to hide the non-payment of prevailing wages and the hiring of illegal immigrants to remodel a state-leased office building at 770 W. Broad St. for use as the state prison offices.

The SAME DAY Fries filled out his registration requirement, Ted Strickland’s super-duper lawyer who has been at the center of a handful of corrupt situations, met with State Highway investigators to question the Patrol’s jurisdiction in the matter. This was the Strickland Administration so intent on paying off political supporters that they were willing to actively involve themselves in tipping off criminals of a forthcoming drug sting.

Kent Markus is about to politically hang.

Randy Ludlow Drops More Details on the Kent Markus/Strickland Drug Non-Sting Cover-up

February 27th, 2010 Matt Comments off

This is incredible:

A state investigation of an alleged scheme to cover up the use of illegal immigrants to remodel a state-leased office building is now in the hands of the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.

But state troopers say they had to stand their ground to ensure the case reached the prosecutor.

Former State Highway Patrol Lt. Col. William Costas, who retired this month as the agency’s No. 2 leader, said investigators had to defend their authority to investigate the case under questioning from the top two lawyers to Gov. Ted Strickland.

The governor’s office said it was making sure the patrol had proper jurisdiction, but Costas charges that the lawyers were trying to throw up a roadblock. In the end, the investigation proceeded without interruption.

The Sept. 10, 2008, meeting in which Kent Markus, who is chief counsel to the governor, and Jose Torres, his deputy, questioned the patrol’s role will add fuel to a political issue brewing at the Statehouse. Republican lawmakers are asking whether political meddling has afflicted patrol investigations.

“We were told we should not investigate,” Costas said. “The meeting had no valid purpose. There was no question we had authority (to investigate) … they were trying to control what we did. They tried intimidation.”

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien finds the questioning by the governor’s lawyers odd, saying it was clear the patrol had authority to investigate and serve search warrants in the case.

Strickland’s office believes that “furious” ex-patrol leaders who left with “hurt feelings” now are lashing out over deserved questioning they received at the 2008 meeting, Wurst said.

An investigation by The Dispatch found that the meeting came after a lobbyist close to Strickland met with Markus on behalf of the company under criminal scrutiny. The two men met two days before the patrol began its probe.

The case centers on the Anchor Companies and its affiliated companies and criminal complaints of hiring illegal immigrants and covering up the activity in records submitted to the state.

In early 2008, the state signed a lease with an Anchor subsidiary that called for remodeling the Columbus real-estate firm’s building at 770 W. Broad St. to house offices of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The state now leases the building for $1.1million a year.

In June 2008, union complaints were filed with the Ohio Department of Commerce accusing Anchor of employing illegal immigrants and not paying state-required prevailing wages to laborers.

Larry Gunsorek, 63, of Bexley, president of Anchor Management Co., faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court on Nov. 5 to hiring illegal immigrants to work on the state prison offices and other properties.

On July 23, 2008, commerce investigators contacted the patrol and asked for help investigating allegations that Anchor had submitted fraudulent documents to the state. The patrol opened a criminal case two days later.

Please read the rest of the article here. Prosecutor O’Brien notes that it is clear that the patrol was the appropriate agency to look into the investigation.

And guess who the lobbyist was? Thomas Fries Sr., a former Democrat legislator, who represents Anchor Companies and worked with Makus. Fries’ son Andrew, is an aide to Strickland who makes $41,273/year. And another son, Thomas, makes $100,178 as the executive director of the Ohio State Racing Commission, which is a board appointed by Strickland himself!

The total donations from Fries family has $23,750 to Strickland since 2005.

These details are minor compared to what is about to hit next. And between Paul Aker and Randy Ludlow, Kent Markus’ corruption is about to be the final nail in the coffin of Ted Strickland’s political career.

A Reader Reminds Me of Strickland’s History with Inmates Smuggling Drugs

February 24th, 2010 Matt Comments off

Interesting:

[D]uring Governor Taft’s first term the mailroom of the governor’s office was staffed by four inmates from the Orient prison.  They were nice guys, generally did a great and efficient job.  But at some point they started using the mailroom to smuggle marijuana into the prison.  As soon as authorities discovered this, the program ended.  “Real” employees were hired to do the work and the protocols for supervising work-release inmates at other locations were improved (while the inmates never left the 30th floor of the Riffe Center without an officer, they weren’t under watch in the office and were frequently alone in the mail room).  The media never found out about it, or at least didn’t report on it.

Then, when Strickland took office and announced plans to use more inmate labor at the residence, I heard (second-hand) that Jon Allison reached out to Strickland’s folks and explained what had happened during Taft’s administration and warned them of the risk, etc.

Allison was one of the people I mentioned in my famous golf club video. During the heat of the 2006 campaign, he wrote a nasty letter to the Wall Street Journal slamming Ken Blackwell.  In 2007, after a short time running his own lobbying firm, Alison is now the Assistant VP & Director of Government Relations at The State Auto Insurance Companies, a government relations company.

If it is Taft or Strickland, it is nice to know that Allison is always willing to lend a helping hand to liberal governors… but apparently Ted didn’t act upon his useful advice?

More Corruption Details at the Governor’s Office- Inmates and Alcohol

February 24th, 2010 Matt Comments off

From Paul Aker’s report last night on Channel 10 in Columbus:


I know Strickland has health issues, but he looks extra jumpy and evasive lately. Marc Kovac posted the extended video of the press gaggle used in the report above, and I think it’s fairly obvious that Strickland knows EXACTLY why these decisions were made and what they didn’t criminals to start singing to Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.

And Randy Ludlow at The Dispatch reports today that Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles is very interested in Strickland’s drug non-sting and what corrupt Strickland administration officials like Kent Markus are doing:

Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles will investigate a decision to scuttle a planned State Highway Patrol sting to catch a courier dropping suspected drugs outside the Governor’s Residence.[...]

The inspector general said yesterday that he also might explore other matters involving the Governor’s Residence. Tobacco, which is banned in state prisons, has been found hidden in inmate work areas and investigators also discovered a bottle of amino acids in the carriage house last month.

And Kyle Sisk has picked up chatter that Team Strickland thinks much of this is being orchestrated by the Kasich campaign. Good grief:

The Kasich Camp is having a very good day today and my guess is that they may not even know it.

I’ve got it on good authority that a portion of the Strickland Team thinks that Kasich & his Kool Aid drinking crew are behind the movement {and talk to a few troopers (especially some of the “old school” types) and you will realize that it IS a growing, percolating movement} inside the current patrol amongst active troopers and outside amongst the patrol alum (especially) to start speaking out about what is happening within the Strickland Administration.

And for the MSM & others I must point out that it is the STRICKLAND administration (although lately a more accurate label might really be “Governor Kent Markus’ Administration with head crybaby for more federal money & temper tantrum throwing toddler when people are realistic about 39 mph trains/lead spokesperson: Minister Ted Strickland”) and not the Guzman administration or the Collins administration or even the Markus Administration (really the most accurate label from Jones-Kelley to today).

That the Kasich Camp is somehow behind http://troopertotrooper.com/ is hilarious to me. It is the height of black helicopter paranoia.

As Kyle goes onto note, by the time this is all over, Strickland will end up wishing this was all political. The truth is, these are just hard working State Highway Patrol cops who are sick of their work and investigations being control by political appointees and hacks. They have been mistreated and are now talking to anyone who will listen.

This story is about to get infinitely more ugly.

Paul Aker vs. Gov. Strickland on Inmates, Booze, and Corruption at the Governor’s Mansion

February 23rd, 2010 Matt Comments off

WOW! Paul Aker of Channel 10 news in Columbus does not mess around. (Video from Marc Kovac’s website)

This story hasn’t even started scratched through the surface yet and it is already this ugly. So many questions about why the Strickland administration and Kent Markus wanted to tip off criminals to a drug bust. What are they afraid of and what would they have probably told Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien? So many questions that must be answered.

Also related to this story is Senator Tim Grendell’s public records request which he sent out today:

Grendell

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