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Loyal friend, but awful Ohio AG

Matt Westerhold • Aug 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Six years after Marc Dann was forced out as Ohio attorney general for his involvement in a sexual harassment scandal, Mike DeWine still doesn't get it.

DeWine intervened last year in a sexual harassment investigation involving a member of his “kitchen cabinet” of close friends he's hired on since he took office in 2011.

Either DeWine simply does not understand his own policies regarding sexual harassment complaints, or his involvement was highly inappropriate and he's being disingenuous about it.

His staff — including DeWine spokespeople Dan Tierney and Lisa Hackley, and DeWine's chief of staff, Mary Mertz, also either don't understand sexual harassment or all three are being disingenuous, marching to DeWine's orders.

The probe by Equal Employment compliance officer Kristine Cadek was shut down — completed with no findings — three days after DeWine interfered in the investigation. 

When he met with Cadek, DeWine insisted the investigator give him the name of a confidential source who provided information about which of his friends was sexually harassing an intern.

Sexual harassment is all about power, and DeWine used his power to short-circuit the investigation and shut it down, similar to the way harassers use their position of power to intimidate interns and subordinate employees with whom they want to have sex.

Older man, much younger woman. Powerful man with important friends versus intern looking for a full-time position.

And now DeWine won't talk about it, leaving it to Tierney, Hackley and Mertz to attempt plausible explanations for DeWine's extraordinary interference helping out a friend in a jam.

DeWine's a loyal friend, perhaps, but he's a self-serving incompetent, or corrupt, attorney general who sidesteps his own rules when the rules are inconvenient to his goals.

Sexual harassment is all about power, and the senior-level AG employee who allegedly harassed the intern had one powerful friend in Mike DeWine.

As far as the obvious potential violations of the attorney general's sexual harassment policy that occurred, Mertz offered a “hear no evil see no evil” explanation.

“I am not aware of any information published to date which can corroborate the allegations of 'potential violations of policy,'” Mertz told the Register.

Translation: We didn't document our violations therefore there were no violations.

“The attorney general is entitled to full information about any alleged misdeeds of his own staff so that he has the ability to take any necessary action,” Mertz told the Register. “Our policy is not to hide information about potential staff wrongdoing from the Attorney General.”

It appears the “necessary action” was to arrange an interview between Cadek and DeWine so DeWine could get the source information and kill the probe.

DeWine should have stayed 100 miles away from Cadek's investigation of his friend. He should not have insisted Cadek give him the name of the confidential source.

If he did contact the source and attempt to assist in the investigation, as Hackley told the Columbus Dispatch after the Register first reported DeWine's involvement, then why weren't those efforts documented in Cadek's report?

DeWine and his communications team are attempting to create plausible explanations for violating the AG office's own policies, but plausibility is eluding all of them.

They're practiced at this game, but not very good at it. 

DeWine whitewashed a 2012 grand jury investigation into the sexual exploitation of a mentally ill inmate at the Sandusky County jail. He and his “close personal friend,” senior advisor Bill Schenck, helped a grand jury dertermine there was no crime when guards kept the woman naked in an observational jail cell for hours, encouraging her to masturbate and perform other lewd acts for their sexual gratification.

When it comes to issues of a sexual nature, DeWine and Schenck just don't get it.

There was no crime when the Sandusky County Sheriff's office reached a deal with the guards to pay each of them $5,000 and give them job references in exchange for their silence.   

DeWine whitewashed another grand jury investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the Sandusky County Sheriff's office after Jacob Limberios was killed March 2, 2012, determining that deputies, prosecutors and detectives were just too stupid to conduct a competent investigation, not criminally liable for their ignorance.

DeWine whitewashed a third grand jury investigation into the death of Craig Burdine at the Sandusky County Jail, concocting a revised theory that is just as incompetent as the original work done by the Sandusky County sheriff's office and the Fremont police seven years ago when it appears they covered up what killed Burdine. 

If Mike DeWine makes any promise this fall about what he'll do if he's re-elected, it's an empty promise. DeWine will do nothing more than protect his friends and go after his enemies, and give lip service to everything that's important but not convenient. 

Four years ago Mike DeWine told the Register he would be in the battle over corruption.

In hindsight, we should have asked which side he was on.

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