The Suburbanite
  • Dems, sue Mandel for public records

  • The issue: 2012 U.S. Senate race

    Our view: It’s not politically smart, but Ohioans should know if he’s violating law

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  • The issue: 2012 U.S. Senate race
    Our view: It’s not politically smart, but Ohioans should know if he’s violating law
    Remember Marc Dann? He’s the Ohio attorney general who resigned in disgrace in 2008 following a sexual harassment scandal in his office. But do you remember the beginning of his story in statewide politics?
    How did this obscure personal-injury lawyer and one-term state senator from Youngstown become the Democratic nominee for attorney general (then surprise even himself by beating longtime Republican public servant Betty Montgomery)?
    Answer: Dann sued Gov. Bob Taft in 2005 for a gazillion public records about the Bureau of Workers Compensation investments scandal that was enveloping the governor’s office.
    A legitimate constitutional issue was at stake: Did the governor really have an executive privilege to withhold documents? But there also was an undeniable benefit to Dann’s personal political future: The lawsuit gave him the name recognition he needed for a statewide campaign.
    We’re reminded of that fact today as the Ohio Democratic Party assails Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel again for not releasing public records that the party says it has requested for months.
    Actually, this demonstrates a second political fact of life: the benefit in not suing for public records.
    The Dayton Daily News reported in late March that Mandel, who took office in January 2011, had hired “six campaign workers whose average age is 26 and assigned them duties ranging from debt management to policy-advising to community outreach.”
    As the newspaper pointed out, this is not unusual but for Mandel’s criticism of his opponent, Democratic incumbent Treasurer Kevin Boyce, for supposedly playing politics with his hiring practices.
    The Dayton newspaper used public records to report the story. No lawsuit was necessary.
    Meanwhile, the Ohio Democratic Party says it has been asking for Mandel’s employee records since April 2011. This week, in its seventh request, the party wrote to Mandel: “Of the 60 names we specifically provided in our request of nearly four months ago, the Treasurer’s office only provided information for approximately 12 employees. We’ve added six names of employees that were hired since we made our last public records request.”
    There’s a way to get the information if you really want it and are being stonewalled. It’s the Marc Dann way. It’s the way the Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter hopes to find out more about plans for drilling in state parks for gas and oil.
    Sue for the records.
    But the story wouldn’t stay in the headlines for long after a lawsuit was settled. And with Mandel running an increasingly tight race for the U.S. Senate against veteran Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrats have every reason to keep the story alive. By not suing.
    Page 2 of 2 - We’d rather see the chips fall where they may. File a lawsuit against Mandel, Democrats. If he’s illegally withholding public records, Ohioans should know. If he’s not, they should know that, too.