Jordan: Clinton, not Trump, sought Russia help to influence election

Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 11:50 AM
Updated: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 11:50 AM

Jim Jordan on WHIO

Rep. Jim Jordan has emerged as a top defender of President Donald Trump as the Justice Department’s Russia investigation continues, leading some to wonder if the GOP insurgent known for causing heartburn to the party establishment has become a surrogate for the president.

For Jordan, it’s very straightforward: He says it was the Hillary Clinton campaign — not the Trump campaign — that worked with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, namely by paying for the compilation of a dossier meant to embarrass Trump. Former FBI director James Comey testified in June that some of the information in that dossier was “salacious and unverified,” but Jordan argues that the FBI nonetheless used it to obtain warrants to spy on Trump campaign officials.

RELATED: Jordan, Davidson at odds with GOP over spy bill

He began questioning the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller last month, spurring headlines when he told Fox News that “everything points to the fact that there was an orchestrated plan to try to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the next president of the United States.”

He amplified those comments in January, publishing a piece with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., in the Washington Examiner that urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down because of Justice Department leaks regarding the case.

Jordan has been so upfront with his criticism of the Russia investigation that CNN host John Berman, in a recent interview with Jordan, asked him if he was coordinating talking points with the White House.

“Of course not,” Jordan said.

‘Key moment in history’

Whether Jordan is motivated by the dedication of a dogged true believer or whether he’s doing it to get in good graces with the Trump administration has stirred plenty of debate.

A Capitol Hill Republican who declined to be named so he could speak candidly said Jordan’s criticism of the investigation is part of a larger effort aimed at positioning the Freedom Caucus, led by Jordan, for a leadership role in the next Congress.

“This whole mop-up duty for the president is jockeying for the next Congress and leadership,” he said.

REALTED: Ex Speaker Boehner goes off on Jordan

But others say Jordan’s full-throated criticism of the investigation comes from sincerity.

“If I know anything about Jim Jordan, it’s that he sticks to his guns, sticks to his principles,” said former Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges, who has been a critic of Trump. “I think he says that stuff because he believes it.”

Democrats accuse Jordan of serving as a surrogate for Trump.

“This will be his legacy,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said. “This is a key moment in history. We know another government interfered with our election and he was one of the congressmen working to stop the American people from knowing what happened…we all should want answers to what happened.”

Jordan: ‘You cannot do that in America’

In an interview, Jordan defending his recent statements, saying the Russia investigation was started under flawed circumstances. He has worked to point out problems with the investigation, including the fact that the FBI began its investigation based on a dossier compiled out of research paid for by the Clinton campaign.

“If the FBI took an opposition research document that was unsubstantiated, that was paid for by the Clinton campaign and dressed it up like legitimate intelligence — you cannot do that in America,” he said.

Jordan said he is also concerned about text messages exchanged by two top FBI officers who were having an extramarital affair. One of the officers, Peter Strzock, ran both the investigation of whether Clinton downloaded classified information on her personal email server as well as the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the campaign.

Strzock last year was removed from the Russia probe over the text messages, one of which called the possibility of a Trump victory “terrifying” and another referring to an “insurance policy” in case he was elected.

Jordan said he thinks the “insurance policy” Strzock referred to was the dossier.

Sounding much like Trump himself, who accused Strzock of treason last week, Jordan said: “To date, we have not one bit of evidence that shows there was coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election. But we have hard facts that say the Clinton campaign paid Russia to do what? Influence the election — to gather material to influence the election” in Clinton’s favor.

Frequent critic

This is far from the first time Jordan has become entrenched in a controversial congressional investigation, or fired spears at the opposition party. He was a key critic of accusations that the IRS unfairly denied tax-exempt status to tea party organizations, and he was among the most vocal on the 2015 House investigation of 2012 attacks on an embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Rep. Warren Davidson, a Troy Republican who is a close ally of Jordan’s, dismisses the notion that Jordan’s investigations are partisan, saying he has been equally hard on GOP Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he was on Obama attorney generals Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder.

“It seems like that this is an investigation about Trump, and in reality, the purpose of this investigation is to understand how Russia tried to influence our elections,” Davidson said.

Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which Jordan helped found, said Jordan “believes the government should be there to serve the people but not pick winners and losers…he’s been consistent with trying to make sure he holds the government accountable.”

But Pepper described a different Jordan, one who “is literally buying into the most extreme of the conspiracy theories.”

“It’s one thing just to have that opinion,” he said. “But that’s not just his opinion. He’s actively involved in very concrete ways to being a roadblock to an investigation of something serious.”

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Back taxes sought on 1,614 properties in Montgomery County

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 2:05 PM


            Montgomery County Auditor Karl L. Keith. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Montgomery County Auditor Karl L. Keith. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office is mailing out notices to the owners of 1,614 properties across the county in an effort to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars from a misapplied tax break that was first uncovered by the Dayton Daily News I-Team.

The properties are owned by businesses, landlords and those claiming more than one address as their primary residence. Combined, those property owners potentially owe up to $372,819 because of tax breaks they received but did not qualify for.

RELATED: I-Team probe led to changes, tax savings in Montgomery County

People who get the notices will have 90 days to appeal the bill to the Board of Revision.

“If they can show we shouldn’t recoup, they should have that opportunity,” said Doug Trout, auditor’s office real estate director.

The auditor’s office hopes to have the issue settled by the next tax collection period in July.

The I-Team originally reported in June 2017 that thousands of properties were listed on county tax rolls as receiving an owner-occupied tax credit meant only for people who own and occupy their home. The list included registered rental properties, businesses and owners who claimed the credit on more than one property.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Ohio county admits people got tax break they didn’t deserve

Auditor Karl Keith audited the program and removed 6,447 parcels from receiving the credit.

With the exception of the largest cases — such as a Florida company that agreed to pay back $25,041 — Keith originally said his office did not intend to go after back-taxes on most properties because there was no mechanism to do so.

But the Ohio Department of Taxation informed the county that state law requires it to go after uncollected taxes. The state reimburses communities for the cost of the credit, so every dollar not collected from property owners because of the tax credit costs state taxpayers.

The owner-occupied tax credit reduces the amount of taxes due by 2.5 percent on levies passed or in existence prior to November 2013. The average amount of the credit per parcel is $76, but with 139,295 properties getting the credit last year, the total impact was $11.3 million.

FOLLOW THE I-TEAM ON FACEBOOK

Back taxes collected by the county will be deducted from the state’s reimbursement for the credit.

Trout said some of the misapplied tax breaks date back to the 1990s and identifying how much is due has been a challenge.

“The way we’re looking at that, and I think the state’s fine with it, is we’re looking back as far as the records will give us some certainty,” Trout said. “It is difficult and quite frankly most auditors have never done this.”

While some are due to auditor’s office error, Trout said most of the cases stem from property owners not taking off the owner-occupied credit when property is rented out or changes hands.

Property owners who are aware they are improperly receiving a credit and don’t report it can face misdemeanor charges potentially leading to a $250 fine, jail time and paying back the credit, plus interest.

RELATED: Judge denies legal challenge to tax law brought by Ohio cities

Fran Lesser, executive director of the County Auditors Association of Ohio, said she isn’t aware of a problem in other counties with the owner-occupied tax credit going to multiple owners who didn’t deserve it. She said many counties have worked hard over the years to make sure people who deserve the credit are getting it.

“Most county auditors maybe would prefer to err this way as opposed to a taxpayer who was deserving of it not getting it,” she said. “They want to make sure every owner-occupant is receiving it.”

Media reports over the years have found problems with the tax credit being misapplied. An I-Team investigation identified the problem in Clark County in 2014.

RELATED: Owner-occupied rebate errors remain on Clark County tax rolls

In 2012, the Dayton Daily News reported that a computer error led to thousands of Montgomery County property owners possibly not getting the credit when they deserved it.

Keith said the 2012 problem was discovered when his office created a county-wide registry of rental properties as required by a new state law. The rental registry was one tool the I-Team used to find misapplied tax credits. But the law only requires the registry in the state’s 14 largest counties, meaning most Ohio counties don’t have this tool.

Lesser said while maintaining accurate rental registries is a challenge for counties who have them — ultimately relying on property owners to tell the truth — she wouldn’t be opposed to requiring more counties to track rentals.

“I’m not sure it’s something we would ask for, but I don’t think we’d oppose it,” she said.

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Butler County senator seeks review of Ohio’s medical pot program

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 12:41 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 12:41 PM


            marijuana
marijuana

A state lawmaker is moving to force a thorough review of Ohio’s medical marijuana program after alleged and acknowledged mistakes occurred in selecting grower applicants.

Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., proposed legislation Thursday requiring State Auditor Dave Yost to conduct and release a performance audit of the program. The program is supposed to be up and running by September.

RELATED: Where could medical marijuana be sold?

The Ohio Department of Commerce acknowledged last week that a scoring error led to one company’s inadvertent exclusion from the dozen big marijuana growers on its proposed list of license recipients.

The agency says it identified the mistake after Yost expressed concern that two employees had complete access to the scoring data.

MAP: Where medical marijuana could be grown in Ohio

Some unsuccessful applicants for grower licenses have sued over alleged failures in the licensing process.

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Where do Ohio’s governor candidates stand on guns?

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 4:30 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 4:30 PM

Shooting instructor Frankie McRae aims an AR-15 rifle fitted with a “bump stock” at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. The stock uses the recoil of the semiautomatic rifle to let the finger “bump” the trigger, making it different from a fully automatic machine gun, which are illegal for most civilians to own. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Staff Writer
Shooting instructor Frankie McRae aims an AR-15 rifle fitted with a “bump stock” at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. The stock uses the recoil of the semiautomatic rifle to let the finger “bump” the trigger, making it different from a fully automatic machine gun, which are illegal for most civilians to own. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)(Staff Writer)

Want a governor who’s all-in on gun rights? How about one who’s fighting for a complete statewide ban on assault-type weapons?

In politically diverse Ohio, voters have their pick of those positions — and just about everything in between — from a crowded field of contenders trying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich.

RELATED: Who is running for Ohio governor?

In the wake of dramatic calls for action that have followed a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last week that left 17 people dead. Republican Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor reasserted her support for the Second Amendment and called for more “trained, law-abiding citizens to carry a gun on campus.”

Mike DeWine(Columbus bureau)

As Taylor runs to the right of Republican rival Attorney General Mike DeWine, Democratic gubernatorial contender Dennis Kucinich is going the opposite way.

The former Cleveland mayor and congressman fired up supporters at a Monday anti-gun rally in Cleveland by calling for a complete ban on assault-type weapons across Ohio. He accompanied his demands with a model resolution that local governments can use to urge Ohio’s Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass such a ban. Two Democrats introduced the bill Tuesday.

Richard Cordray

“I believe that we are at a tipping point, that the public awareness of the danger of these assault weapons is so powerful, that no matter who is in office, or who aspires to office, this event in Parkland has created a sea change in the way we’re approaching this issue where people are becoming motivated and activated because they realize that all our lives are on the line here,” Kucinich said.

Somewhere in the middle are DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, the former federal consumer protection chief.

DeWine responded to the Florida massacre with a three-point plan centered on beefing up children’s safety, while supporting no new gun laws.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor announced that Hamilton businessman Nathan Estruth, right, will join her campaign as her candidate for lieutenant governor during a press conference at City Gospel Mission Wednesday, Jan. 10 in Cincinnati. Estruth has recently left his position as CEO of iMFLUX, a Procter & Gamble subsidiary, to join the campaign. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Staff Writer)

The DeWine plan calls for one mental health professional in every school, more robust use of Ohio’s background check system and insistence that Ohio’s existing center for strategic analysis of threats use “every current and emerging technology to analyze, investigate, and intercept any threats to Ohio children and schools.”

Poll: DeWine and Cordray leading in primary races

“We must protect our children at all times — especially in school,” he said. “These are tangible efforts that will help ensure that our kids get the help and protection they need.”

At a breakfast for prosecutors held in Canton on Tuesday, Cordray also supported expanded background checks and increased support for school safety measures. He said he would fight for a statewide ban on the sale of bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic the rapid fire of machine guns. Cordray also said he would create local gun trafficking task forces and appoint a “gun violence prevention czar” if elected.

Former congressman Dennis Kucinich.(Staff Writer)

“Throughout my career in public office, I have supported responsible gun ownership by law-abiding citizens and I continue to do so in accord with the Second Amendment,” Cordray said. “But as a supporter of responsible gun ownership, I believe we must strongly enforce existing laws, take steps to ensure these laws are not being circumvented, and take further steps to make sure these guns don’t get into the wrong hands and are not being enhanced to engage in mass killings.”

Kucinich questioned Cordray for failing to support an all-out ban on assault-style weapons, which appears to be gaining ground nationally.

He labeled Cordray “singularly responsible” for stripping local communities of their ability to ban assault weapons. Kucinich was referring to Cordray’s role, as Ohio’s attorney general, in defending the state in a lawsuit by Cleveland challenging a state law prohibiting local assault weapons bans.

Cordray and Kucinich are among seven Democrats running for governor. Others include state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

 

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Should Reds be taxed for bobbleheads? Supreme Court to decide

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 11:45 AM


            The bobblehead booth was decorated with oversized bobbleheads of former Reds players, like this one of Pete Rose, during RedsFest Friday, Dec 2 at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The bobblehead booth was decorated with oversized bobbleheads of former Reds players, like this one of Pete Rose, during RedsFest Friday, Dec 2 at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Ohio Supreme Court says it will hear arguments in a dispute over promotions offered by the Cincinnati Reds to ticket buyers including bobbleheads and other items.

At issue is whether the Reds are exempt from paying tax on the purchase of the promotional items.

Attorneys for the Reds argue they don’t have to pay tax on the purchase of promotional items because they resell them as part of the ticket package.

RELATED: National Bobblehead Day

Ohio law exempts companies from paying tax on items they buy to resell.

The state tax commissioner says the promotional items should be taxed because the Reds bought the items as giveaways and they aren’t selling them with the tickets.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hold oral arguments. No date was set.

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