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State politics is local

Matt Westerhold • Feb 24, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich could get snared in the controversies in Sandusky County this year, as his campaign for re-election heats up. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine already is thick with it.

The evidence should dictate the findings of DeWine's investigation of the death of Craig Burdine at the Sandusky County Jail, allegedly at the hands of a jail guard. DeWine is conducting the first and only official criminal investigation since it occurred in 2007.

He's six months into it, but DeWine hasn't given any hint whether he'll seek grand jury indictments against Sandusky County officials, or anyone, in what must be a coverup of wrongdoing if only because they failed to order a criminal investigation, at all.

Click here to read more about Craig Burdine

That's pretty darn clever — if it weren't so terribly wrong.

The Burdine family, their lawyers and experts, did conduct a criminal investigation, however, and the evidence brought forward makes it clear what happened on Aug. 11, 2007, in the Sandusky County Jail is not what sheriff' deputies and jail guards, and the Fremont Police Department said happened.

The official story just does not hold up.

And if DeWine does decide to impanel a grand jury, he has tremendous hurdles to overcome in making sure it proceeds in a fair and proper way, given the targets of the grand jury likely are the very officials who assemble it.

The Ohio Revised Code, and its Administrative Code governing duties of elected officials and the structure of state government, don't establish any clear path to addressing government corruption. The bureaucracy, by nature, feeds and grows without a moral conscious.

Read more about the grand jury process

In Sandusky County, Burdine's death is tied to the death of Bryan Jones in July 2010; the sexploitation in 2012 of a mentally ill inmate left naked and masturbating in an observational jail cell for the sexual gratification of jail guards; and the botched investigation into the death of Jacob Limberios in 2012.

In every one, information gathered by the victims' families overwhelmingly suggests a pattern of wrongdoing. DeWine — and the AG's Office as an institution — already are ensnared in all of that.

The Burdine investigation is his last chance — in these parts — to show he meant what he said in 2010 during his first campaign for Attorney General that he would be a fighter against government corruption.

Kasich too brings the Republican Party smack up against the malignancies in Sandusky County with his mal-functioning Department of Public Safety and its director John Born.

Born shut down a review of an investigation by the county sheriff of an allegation that an Ohio Patrol sergeant masturbated with a pre-teen boy, but he refuses to say whether the trooper was cleared.

Click here to read more about trooper's sex lesson

Director Born followed the standard and the pattern set by sheriff's detective Sean O'Connell and Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt when they closed out the local investigation Jan. 10 without ever interviewing the Patrol officer.

Stierwalt opted against filing charges, he said, because he might not be able to convict the officer because the officer's defense attorney, who works for Stierwalt, could argue he was watching porn video and masturbating with the boy to teach the child how to masturbate.

It's Kasich's call whether any of that reasoning makes any sense at all.

Stand with it, or stand against it.

Click here for a roundup of news out of Sandusky County

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