Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine refuses to answer questions about how he intervened in a sexual harassment investigation last year of a personal friend who works in his office.
But DeWine claims he did everything possible to determine which of his friends allegedly harassed an intern to the point where she quit working for the office.
A spokesman for DeWine, Dan Tierney, also claims the attorney general answered the questions despite the fact he's offered no reply.
There never was any response from DeWine, and the questions were never addressed.
Tierney contends DeWine's chief of staff, Mary Mertz, answered the questions for DeWine, but that also did not occur.
It's not clear how Tierny determined the questions were answered when they haven't been answered, or addressed, or why he asked the Register to inaccurately report they had been answered.
In April 2013 the intern declined a job offer from DeWine citing the harassment from someone she described as an older attorney working for the attorney general who is a close personal friend of DeWine's.
“I have four daughters. I would not want any of them to go into an environment where there was a sexual predator there, and so I did everything I could to make sure that was not the case," DeWine told IdeaStream, a Public Broadcasing media company in Cleveland. "And we turned over every single stone we could find and we were not able to come up with anything.”
But Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern says DeWine knows exactly who harassed the intern and he's covering up for a friend.
"By process of elimination Bill Schenck meets all of the descriptions that were offered as part of the (timeline) as well as part of the investigation," Redfern said.
Schenck and DeWine have worked together for more than 40 years and Schenck does fit the description the intern provided of her alleged harasser. But Schenck denied knowing the woman to equal employment compliance officer Kristine Cadek, who was later assigned to investigate the intern's allegation.
DeWIne's chief of staff, Mary Mertz and other top DeWine assistants appear to have improperly investigated the woman's claims for about two months before turning the matter over to Cadek. The attorney general's office has a workplace harassment policy that dictates how complaints are to be handled, and that policy appears to have been violated after the allegation against DeWine's friend was made.
Mertz and others reviewed the intern's emails and repeatedly contacted her after she resigned for about two month before asking Cadek to investigate.
Mertz also appears to be misunderstanding the policy, or intentionally misinterpreting it to explain DeWine's decision to intervene.
About two months after Cadek began her investigation, DeWine demanded she give him the name of a confidential source who had provided information about the identity of the accused and shut down the investigation three days later, on Aug. 8, 2013.
DeWine later asked the Franklin County prosecutor to consider filing felony charges against Cadek, who included information about DeWine's interference in her report of he investigation, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
“Instead of defending the victim, Mike DeWine tried to punish the person who was helping the victim,” Redfern said. “He should be ashamed of himself.”
DeWine has refused to respond to 11 questions about his involvement the Register sent directly to him on Aug 5, although his spokesman contends DeWine has responded to the inquiry.
Redfern contends DeWine is "the most corrupt elected official" in Ohio, and he's done nothing to protect employees because he's too concerned with protecting himself and his "best friend."
That claim was echoed by Kathy DiCristofaro, chair of the Ohio Democratic Women's caucus.
"What we do know is that there is likely still a sexual harasser in Attorney General’s office who has avoided punishment because this investigation went nowhere, and Mike DeWine’s personal efforts protected him. Ohio women deserve answers on why AG DeWine was interfering again in an ongoing investigation," DiCristofaro said.