Protests filed against the candidacy of Charlie Earl, the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor, claim that he got onto the ballot because his campaign was got help from Ohio Democrats.
Secretary of State Jon Husted's office will be holding public hearings starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the PUCO building in Columbus on protests that were filed challenging the candidacy of Earl and the Libertarian Party's candidate for attorney general, Steven Linnabary.
A passage from one of the protests, filed by the Zeigger, Tigges and Little law firm on behalf of Gregory Felsoci, described as a Libertarian who lives in Rocky River, claims that Earl's efforts to get on the ballot were "propped up" by Democrats. Here is a relevant passage:
" ... the Democratic law firm of choice, McTigue & McGinnis, LLC, and the Democratic go-to consulting firm, Strategy Network, propped up the otherwise failing efforts of the Libertarian candidates to obtain the 500 valid signatures needed to get them on the ballot. Four separate employees of Strategy Network - Eileen Vorhees, Samuel Runta, Emily Baker, and Andrew Goldsmith - collected and submitted more than fifty of the part-petition signatures on behalf of the Libertarian candidates. But Mr. Runta, for example, has interned with the Ohio Democratic Party and has also worked for Ohio Democratic and Minority Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives Armand Budish. And the Form 14s reflect that the efforts of these four solicitors (and perhaps others that are undisclosed) were supervised, managed or otherwise organized by James Winnett, the LGBT Outreach Director of the Ohio Democratic Party, and Ian James, a long-time and well-respected leader of the Democratic Party in Ohio.
"Moreover, the Form 14s publicly filed with your office reflect that the entity paying for the efforts of Strategy Network and McTigue & McGinnis to supervise, manage or otherwise organize the collection of signatures on behalf of the Libertarian candidates is an entity titled
Ohioans for Liberty. Earlier filings with your office reflect that the Ohio Democratic Party has funded Ohioans for Liberty in an amount of $828,000 or more."
If Ohio Democrats are helping the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor, I see at least two possibilities: (1) The Democrats are sorry about all of that big government "tax and spend" stuff and want to make amends or (2) Democrats think Earl would take away more votes from incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich than the Democrats' presumptive nominee, Ed FitzGerald. We report, you decide!
When I asked Earl about the challenge, he directed my attention to these videos, in which the Ohio Republican Party's chairman, Matt Borges, takes credit for getting the challenges filed at Husted's office. Notice in the second video how Borges corrects himself, noting that the challenges technically had to be filed by Libertarians.
"I will add that if our campaign has violated the law, and we have failed to legally obtain our signatures, I will apologize to the people of Ohio and gracefully accept my fate," Earl told me.
Tuesday's hearings will be held before hearing officer Brad Smith, a Capital University law professore and former FEC official, who will recommend to Husted whether Earl and Linnabary should be removed from the ballot.
My interview with Earl is here.