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Luckie conviction latest in growing FBI crackdown on corruption

Published: Saturday, January 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, January 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Recent investigations

January 2013: Former state representative Clayton Luckie, a Dayton Democrat, pleaded guilty to eight felony counts and an ethics charge and is sentenced to three years in prison.

June 2012: Former state representative W. Carlton Weddington, a Columbus Democrat, pleaded guilty to bribery and elections falsification charges and is sentenced to three years in prison.

June 2012: Carl W. Shye Jr., of New Albany, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one embezzlement count, admitting that he illegally took $472,579.90 in federal funds between 2005 and 2011 while serving as treasurer for four charter schools.

May 2010: Former Attorney General Marc Dann, a Democrat was convicted of ethics violations for filing false financial disclosure statements and for using his campaign account to make supplemental payments to two top aides, Anthony Gutierrez and Leo Jennings III. Gutierrez, Jennings, Dann’s former chief of staff Edgar Simpson, and Dann’s now ex-wife Alyssa Lenhoff were each convicted of ethics violations.

September 2007: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation former chief investment officer James McLean was charged with an ethics violation for failing to disclose gifts.

July 2007: Former chairman of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation oversight board, George Forbes, is charged with ethics violations for accepting and failing to report freebies from BWC vendors.

April 2007: Three former Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation investment officials are charged with ethics violations.

November 2006: Thomas Noe, a Republican and rare coin dealer from suburban Toledo, is convicted on 29 felony counts including theft, money laundering, forgery and corrupt activity and is sentenced to 18 years in prison. Noe ran a $50 million rare coin investment portfolio for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Noe was also convicted in federal court for violating campaign finance laws for funneling more than $45,000 into George W. Bush’s 2003 re-election campaign.

September 2006: Four former board members of the State Teachers Retirement System are sentenced to probation and community service for ethics violations. The board members received meals, gifts and entertainment tickets from STRS vendors, investigators found. Three other STRS officials had been previously convicted of ethics violations: board members Jack Chapman and Hazel Sidaway and former executive director Herb Dyer.

June 2006: Terrence Gasper, former chief financial officer at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, pleaded guilty in federal court to a racketeering charge and in state court to money laundering and failing to report gifts.

August 2005: Then-Gov. Bob Taft pleaded no contest to four misdemeanor charges of filing incomplete financial disclosure statements when he failed to report golf outings and other gifts from 2001 to 2004. He was found guilty, fined $4,000 and ordered to apologize to Ohioans.

July 2005: Brian Hicks, former chief of staff to Bob Taft, pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor ethics count stemming from when he paid less than fair market value for stays at rare coin dealer Tom Noe’s $1.3 million Florida home. He failed to report the stays as gifts on his financial disclosure statements. Hicks’ former assistant also was convicted of receiving free meals from Noe.

• June 2005: Former Dayton firefighter David Harker pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor ethics counts for trips and gratuities received while serving as an Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund trustee. Six months earlier, former Dayton police detective Tom Bennett was sentenced to probation and community service for violations committed as a pension trustee.

• August-September 2004: Matthew Borges, former chief of staff for then-state treasurer Joe Deters, pleaded guilty to giving preferential treatment to some investment brokers. Eric Sagun, Deters’ fund-raiser, was convicted of an election law violation. Lobbyist Andrew Futey pleaded guilty, was fined and put on probation for helping a stockbroker get business with Deters’ office.

• February 2004: Luther Heckman, chairman of the Ohio Racing Commission, resigned after a report accused racing commissioners of accepting food, drink, travel and gifts from racetracks they oversee.

• November 2003: Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Rob Tongren resigned after a report criticized him for destroying a document and taking free meals and golf from utility companies. In 2005 he pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor ethics violations.

• September 2003: Ohio State Fair Director Richard Frenette resigned after being accused of accepting freebies from fair vendors.

• August 2002: Ohio Turnpike Commission Director Gino Zomparelli is forced out of office after an investigation concludes he and his staff accepted gifts from contractors.

• July 2002: Ohio School Facilities Commission Director Randy Fischer resigns after news articles about how he took freebies from state contractors. Fischer entered a no contest plea to two misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charges in 2003.

— Sources: The Associated Press, Dayton Daily News research, Ohio Ethics Commission

In just eight months, the Ohio House of Representatives has seen two of its lawmakers indicted, convicted and sentenced to years in prison for bribery and theft — felony activity that may have gone undetected had it not been for the FBI’s decision to assign five agents to dig into public corruption.

Last week, former state Rep. Clayton Luckie, a Dayton Democrat, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges and one misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years in state prison.

“Public corruption is a top priority for the FBI in order to maintain an honest and accountable form of elected government. Corrupt public officials can undermine public confidence in our government, misuse tax dollars, and impact the safety and security of our nation,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko of the Cincinnati field office.

The anti-public corruption squad formally began working out of its Columbus office in October but before that, the team worked on three high-profile cases that led to convictions of two state lawmakers and a charter school treasurer in the last eight months.

Authorities found that Luckie siphoned off as much as $130,000 from his campaign account between 2006 and 2012 for spending at casinos and on furniture, jewelry and clothing and then submitted bogus documents to cover his tracks.

Luckie will join former state lawmaker W. Carlton Weddington, a Columbus Democrat, in the state prison system. In June, Weddington pleaded guilty to bribery and elections falsification charges. He is currently serving a three-year sentence in the Allen Correctional Institution, a minimum and medium security prison in Lima.

Records in the Weddington case led federal investigators to Luckie.

Local and state officials expect the FBI squad to bring forward more public corruption cases.

“I am confident that will happen, which is a good thing,” said Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, who is chairman of the Joint Legislative Ethics Commission and co-author of the most recent overhaul of Ohio’s ethics laws. “People (in public office) really ought to understand they’re very much in the focus of the newspapers and of the public. And some people shouldn’t be here. Their motivations are not good ones … This is just not a situation that is acceptable at all.”

Batchelder hopes to hold hearings on legislation to reform campaign finance reporting requirements to prevent the kind of fraud perpetrated by Luckie. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien suggested that periodic submission of underlying bank records may help auditors at the Secretary of State’s office confirm the legitimacy of campaign expenditures by hundreds of officeholders and candidates.

The bank records — as well as an FBI forensic accountant — were key to building the case against Luckie, O’Brien said.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said all campaign finance reports are screened by auditors for reporting errors but not whether those errors indicate wrongdoing. Husted said they check for missing information, such as required receipts or proof money was spent as reported, and first reach out to campaigns to correct the errors.

“We definitely try to play it strictly by the book — what is allowed, what isn’t allowed,” Husted said. “We don’t make judgments whether it’s a wise use of funds, we make judgments whether it’s a legal use of funds.”

The campaign finance department sent Luckie multiple letters since 2008 related to three routine audits of his campaign account. Luckie took at least eight months to comply with the first audit, which listed several expenditures verified by receipts or canceled checks and instances where Luckie reimbursed himself for $750 and $1,700.

Subsequent letters show Luckie provided some of the requested information, such as receipts for stays at German Village Inn in Columbus or an invoice for $4,000 from Dayton Printery.

FBI investigators later discovered Luckie created and submitted fake receipts and invoices for those purchases. They also found Luckie made 169 ATM and other cash withdrawals totaling nearly $19,000 and used at least $1,700 in cash at Indiana, Florida and West Virginia casinos.

A Dayton Daily News examination of Luckie’s finance reports shows he spent freely from his campaign since 2006.

Using money donated to the campaign, Luckie bought $13,000 in sports and entertainment tickets, spent $1,192 on car maintenance and covered thousands of dollars in incidental expenses that included expenditures such as a $67.41 propane tank over Memorial Day weekend, the reports show.

Luckie spent more than $15,000 on food — some transactions were noted as food for volunteers and events but more than half the reported food expenditures were less than $20 at fast food restaurants. He reported spending nearly $3,000 on “gifts,” including $760.68 at Babies “R” Us.

So why wasn’t Luckie caught by campaign finance auditors?

Expenses at Best Buy, Kroger and Donatos don’t, on the surface, violate Ohio campaign finance law. And there was no way auditors could check what Luckie reported against what was actually spent. Husted said requiring candidates to submit bank statements with their campaign reports would allow auditors to catch misspending.

Phil Richter, executive director of the Ohio Elections Commission, said those details often aren’t unearthed until the commission investigates the expenditures. For example, a dry cleaning tab could be for a politician’s personal laundry (illegal) or to clean a donor’s suit jacket that the candidate spilled coffee on at a campaign event.

“There are always going to be those kinds of gray areas that only additional evidence can demonstrate whether they’re proper or not,” Richter said. “All the additional laws in the world aren’t going to clarify every single thing.”

Unlike other states, Ohio’s commission does not have authority to initiate investigations; it can only act on formal complaints or advisory requests. Richter said commissioners would be willing to work with lawmakers to give them more authority to investigate suspicious campaign finance behavior.

O’Brien, who prosecuted Luckie, Weddington and dozens of other state politicians and appointed officials since he took office in 1997, said Ohio has a history of strong and aggressive ethics law enforcement, even though the effort is chronically underfunded. He added that the new FBI resources will add to the long-standing efforts by the Joint Legislative Ethics Commission, state auditor, attorney general, state Inspector General, Ohio Ethics Commission and others to root out public corruption.

Even before the FBI set up its anti-public corruption team in Columbus, Ohio has seen its share of elected and appointed officials fall to scandals both big and small.

* In the mid-1990s, lawmakers were convicted of failing to disclose speaking fees.

* In the early 2000s, nine trustees and officials at the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund and State Teachers Retirement Fund were convicted of ethics violations for taking freebies from vendors.

* In 2004, three people associated with Republican state treasurer Joe Deters were convicted for helping certain investment brokers get preferential treatment.

A double-barreled investigation into ethics and investments in former Gov. Bob Taft’s administration and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation led to the sitting governor pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge in 2005 and Tom Noe, a rare coin dealer, being convicted on 29 felony counts and sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2006.

The BWC and Taft investigations left such a bad taste in the mouths of voters that the GOP lost nearly every statewide office in the 2006 elections.

One of the loudest crusaders against public corruption was Democrat Marc Dann, a state senator from the Youngstown area who won a surprise victory in the attorney general’s race. But less than two years into his administration, Dann was pressured to resign as news leaked that he hired friends who then misbehaved in office. Dann, his then wife, and three top aides were all convicted of ethics charges.

Ohio Ethics Commission Chairman Merom Brachman said in the past 10 years, the commission has seen a “massive” uptick in the number of officials seeking advisory opinions. A unique feature in Ohio ethics law grants immunity to those who seek an advisory opinion and follow the advice, he said.

The Ohio Ethics Commission receives annual financial disclosure statements from more than 11,000 officeholders and appointed officials and has jurisdiction over all public officials and employees statewide.

Brachman said, “The Ohio ethics law simply requires, in common sense ways, no failure of personal honesty in the use of the public purse … It may not stop all wrongdoing but where we have help from serious prosecutors, as in Franklin County, the public certainly sees greater confidence about requiring proper activity than a generation ago.”

What Ohio lawmakers are saying about the Iran nuclear deal

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 5:47 PM
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 9:04 AM

President Trump Addresses Iran Nuclear Deal

Ohio lawmakers split down party lines Thursday not only on whether President Donald Trump should have refused to certify the Iran nuclear agreement but whether the Obama administration should have backed the deal in the first place.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Niles, acknowledged that the pact is not “perfect,” but said it “remains our best chance for lasting peace and nuclear nonproliferation in Iran.” He called Trump’s decision to not certify the agreement “a grave mistake.”

“There is no doubt that this deal is in the best interests of the United States and helps to neutralize a potential nuclear threat to the world,” he said.

He called Trump’s announcement “yet another example of the egregious mismanagement of our foreign policy (that) does nothing to reassure our allies that the United States is leading with a steady hand.”

The decision does not end the agreement outright, but instead sends it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Ryan called for Congress “to do the right thing” to avoid an international crisis.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, meanwhile, worried that while Trump’s decision doesn’t end the agreement, it could lead to its unraveling. He said failure to adhere to the Iran deal might make allies and North Korea question whether the United States will stand by its commitments.

“There is no question we must crack down on Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, including its support for terrorism — which is exactly why Congress enacted tough new sanctions this summer,” he said. “The president should use those sanctions, instead of leading us down a path toward unraveling the Iran nuclear agreement, which his own defense secretary has said would not be in our national interest.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the multi-nation agreement under Obama “has empowered Iran to increase its destabilizing activities throughout the region, while at best pausing — not dismantling — Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons and delivery systems.”

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He said he would like the U.S. to implement a comprehensive regional strategy to combat Iran’s influence “and hold it accountable for both its nuclear program and its destabilizing non-nuclear activities, including its support for sectarian militias and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, human rights violations, and increasing involvement in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.”

Republican Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, one of four GOP candidates for governor, tweeted, “Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal shipped billions to the world’s #1 state sponsor of terrorism & green lighted their nuclear weapons program. It threatens both America’s security & Israel’s existence. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for taking a critical step towards ending it.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, said Trump’s decision should force Congress to develop a strategy “with stricter enforcement to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

“The Iranian regime has consistently remained hostile to Israel, violated multiple UN resolutions to build their ballistic missile program, and has posed a wide range of threats to the region and our own national security,” he said.

Rep. Bill Johnson, R–Marietta, said the U.S. should never have agreed to the deal.

“It only temporarily restricts Iran’s nuclear program, and does little to deter Tehran from continuing its thirst for nuclear weapons and technology — all while filling the regime’s coffers,” he said. “Not only has Iran repeatedly displayed a disturbing pattern of behavior while continuing to recruit and fund terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, but the Iranian regime’s continued nuclear testing on military sites also undermines the standards set by the international community to promote security and regional stability.”

Rep. Steve Stivers, R–Upper Arlington, said he, too, was never comfortable with the Iran deal.

“From the very beginning, I had concerns about the Iran Deal because it is based on the failed North Korea Deal and did not include restrictions on the development of technology used to weaponize nuclear energy, such as triggers, fuses, and ballistic missiles,” he said. “I believe this decision will allow a new agreement to be negotiated which will include language to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said the deal had “an insufficient inspection regime, insufficiently addresses long range ICBM missile development, and is limited to 10 years, giving the appearance of permission to develop nuclear weapons during the 11th year.”

However, he said, he believes that Iran is “materially complying with the provisions that require Iran abandon pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons.”

“After the President’s statements today, the international community and Congress must provide sufficient leverage for amending the agreement in ways that could ensure Iran never obtains nuclear weapons,” he said.

Kasich criticizes President Trump actions on health care as ‘outrageous’

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:10 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:10 PM

Gov. John Kasich
Ron Schwane
Gov. John Kasich(Ron Schwane)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said it is “outrageous” President Donald Trump and lawmakers from both parties have not forged a compromise aimed at both stabilizing the 2010 health law and continuing federal dollars to help middle-income Americans afford their federally subsidized policies.

 

During an appearance Sunday on NBC’ Meet the Press Kasich assailed Trump’s decision last week to end those federal payments, saying the move will “impose higher costs on” on families who bought individual insurance policies made available through the law which is known as Obamacare.

“Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray . . . were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It's a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it's just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper outlined a plan last month aimed at stabilizing the exchanges and preventing the federally subsidized individual market from collapse.

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

“That's how I knew the country was in trouble,” Kasich joked.

Kasich’s comments on Obamacare represent a shift from his presidential campaign rhetoric. As governor, he accepted hundreds of millions of dollars made available through Obamacare to expand Medicaid health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income people in Ohio.

But he refused to establish a state marketplace established by Obamacare where middle-income people could buy federally subsidized individual policies. Instead, people in Ohio had to buy their policies through a marketplace – known as an exchange – established by the federal government.

During a testy exchange with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during a Republican presidential debate last year in South Carolina, Kasich defended his decision to expand Medicaid coverage, but declared he “did not set up an exchange. And (Bush) knows that I’m not for Obamacare, never have been.”

Obamacare cut the number of Americans without health insurance or government-provided coverage by 40 percent. The law expanded Medicaid and provided federal subsidies to allow middle-income people could buy individual plans through exchanges established by the states or federal government.

A family of four earning as much as $98,000 a year could use federal tax credits to buy any of those plans.

For families of four earning up to $61,000 a year, there was an additional benefit. If they bought a silver plan, the federal government offered cost-sharing subsidies to reduce deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses.

Congressional Republicans never agreed to spend money for the cost-sharing subsidies and Trump last week said they would be ended later this year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-research organization in Washington, calculated that 7.1 million of the 12.2 million people who bought policies through the exchanges receive cost - sharing payments, concluding the payments reduced out-of-pocket expenses for the typical family by roughly $5,500 a year.

Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray … were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It’s a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it’s just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

RELATED: Kasich on Trump Afghanistan decision: ‘Not the way I think we should go’

Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray … were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It’s a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it’s just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

6 years after bears and tigers were set loose in Ohio: what’s changed?

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 5:54 PM


            In an August 2008 photo, Terry Thompson stands with some of his award-winning Percheron horses on his farm west of Zanesville, Ohio. Authorities said Thompson, a game-preserve owner, apparently freed dozens of wild animals, including tigers and grizzly bears, and then killed himself on Oct. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Zanesville Times Recorder, Chris Crook)
In an August 2008 photo, Terry Thompson stands with some of his award-winning Percheron horses on his farm west of Zanesville, Ohio. Authorities said Thompson, a game-preserve owner, apparently freed dozens of wild animals, including tigers and grizzly bears, and then killed himself on Oct. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Zanesville Times Recorder, Chris Crook)

On Oct. 18, 2011, Ohio gained world attention when sheriff’s deputies put down 49 wild animals that had been set free by a distraught man who then committed suicide.

Among the animals killed that day: 18 tigers, 17 lions, eight bears, three mountain lions, one baboon and two wolves.

Almost immediately, Ohio lawmakers enacted strict rules on the ownership of exotic animals. Here are three things that changed in the aftermath of the bizarre, surreal event:

1. Ohio went from having some of the nation’s loosest laws on the private exotic animal ownership to having some of the toughest. Owners had to register and micro-chip their animals, and meet strict standards on housing, training, transportation, insurance and enclosures. The law also prohibited the acquisition of more animals — except for certain species — and the state could seize animals from owners who failed to meet the standards.

2. A $3 million, 20,000-square-foot temporary holding facility was constructed in Reynoldsburg to house, feed, transport and care for animals that are either seized or surrendered to the state as part of the state law. The Ohio Department of Agriculture won’t say how many animals are housed there at any one time, citing security concerns, but since it opened in early 2013 the facility has held 207 animals, including 107 American alligators, 39 snakes, 18 black bears, 16 tigers, seven brown bears, and five cougars. Operation costs since it opened have totaled $3.6 million.

3. It’s safe to say that Ohio has fewer private owners. It’s not known just how many fewer exotic animal owners there are because they were harder to track prior to the passage of the law. But the numbers are down even since the law was passed. So far this year, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has issued 45 permits for 163 animals. That’s down from 64 permits for 218 animals in 2014, the first year the new regulations were in effect.

“I think it was a needed law,” said state veterinarian Dr. Melissa Simmerman. “Before this law went into effect, Ohio was one of the few states left in the country that had no dangerous wild animal-type regulations.”

But not everyone is happy with the law. Mona Kerby, who lives in Butler County and has owned an eight-pound monkey, Bella, for 13 years, said she has to pay $1,350 a year for insurance because of the law, and also submit to home inspections and mandated visits to a veterinarian.

“I do think there should be restrictions. but they should be reasonable,” Kerby said.

Some in Montgomery County GOP angry over possible endorsement vote

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 4:51 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 04, 2017 @ 1:14 PM

Local GOP fight brewing over possible endorsement

A faction of the Montgomery County Republican Party is pushing for an endorsement Wednesday night of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for governor, a move that is unpopular with other party leaders, according to Rob Scott, senior campaign advisor to one of the other three candidates: U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth.

“There are a bunch of people in the county party who are very much against this,” said Scott, who is vice mayor of Kettering and a member of the party’s central committee.

Husted, Renacci, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor are all running for the Republican nomination in the 2018 election. The primary is May 8.

Husted supporter, State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said the grassroots support is behind Husted, who he called “our native son in Montgomery County” who “is going to be our next governor.”

“We have the votes. It’s going to happen,” Antani said. “I understand there are people out there who would like to see this not happen….They’re running scared so they are trying to cause trouble.”

Husted attended the University of Dayton and stayed in the area after graduation, eventually representing part of the region in the Ohio House and Senate. He no longer lives in Montgomery County.

Husted’s campaign spokesman Josh Eck said he was unaware of the plan to vote, but added, “I want the endorsement of all the county Republican parties. We are appreciative to hear the support that he has.”

The Williams County GOP has endorsed Husted, Eck said.

RELATED: Jon Husted running for Ohio governor

Dave Luketic, spokesman for DeWine’s campaign, said the Lucas County Republican Party endorsed DeWine but many county parties are likely to wait until after the filing deadline for the race next year.

“We are working every single committee in every single county for any type of endorsement,” Luketic said. “It is our expectation that the Montgomery County Republican Party will follow its tradition and bylaws in screening possible candidates for any office.”

He said endorsements can bring resources, staff and volunteers to a campaign.

DeWine was born in Springfield and started his political career in Greene County as prosecutor, later representing the region in the statehouse and in Congress. He lives in Cedarville.

RELATED: Mike DeWine running for governor

At the Montgomery County GOP meeting DeWine will have “a lot of supporters,” Luketic said, noting that DeWine spoke to the central committee this summer.

“Mike DeWine enjoys a large support base in Montgomery County,” Luketic said. “Recent polling shows it to be one of the strongest areas in the state.”

Taylor’s spokesman, Michael Duchesne, said Taylor has not yet met with the central committee. He said but she will win the nomination by “competing for the hearts and minds of conservative Republican voters.”

“What’s Jon Husted afraid of? I have absolute trust in the GOP primary voters of Montgomery County to do the right thing and let the process play out as it has since time immemorial,” Duchesne said.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor makes run for Ohio governor official

The Montgomery County Republican Party typically does interviews to screen candidates before doing endorsements. Those interviews have not occurred, so a vote would be against the regular order, Scott said.

Also, he said, the agenda for the Wednesday central committee meeting does not include a vote on endorsing in that race, although Husted is scheduled to speak, along with State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, who is running for secretary of state.

“I think that the full body of the central committee should hear from all the candidates and the county party should follow procedure and process when it comes to endorsements of candidates,” said Scott, noting that Renacci’s schedule in Washington, D.C., has prevented him from speaking to the central committee.

RELATED: Renacci jumps into governor’s race with ‘Ohio First’ campaign

Antani countered that the party bylaws allow a vote without following previous screening procedures.

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Phil Plummer, who has the authority to allow or disallow the endorsement vote, could not be reached for comment.

The central committee meeting is at 6 p.m. at Celebrations Banquet Center II, 7615 Poe Ave., Harrison Twp.

Candidates for the Democratic nomination include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron.

The winner will replace Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who is term-limited.

RELATED: Democratic governor candidates focus on jobs, addiction in debate