Luckie, prosecutor confirm investigation; 2 Democrats say he won't seek re-election

Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012 @ 7:27 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 09, 2012 @ 7:27 PM

            In this file photo: Clayton Luckie, D, 39th District, left, with his wife Lisa looking on, right, is sworn in by Speaker of the House Jon A. Husted Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio.
            AP Photo/Terry Gilliam
In this file photo: Clayton Luckie, D, 39th District, left, with his wife Lisa looking on, right, is sworn in by Speaker of the House Jon A. Husted Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio.(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

State Rep. Clayton Luckie and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien both issued statements Thursday confirming that the Dayton Democrat is under investigation but not for bribery. But the statements didn’t answer questions about what charges, if any, Luckie may face.

Earlier this year, O’Brien brought a criminal case against Columbus-area state lawmaker W. Carlton Weddington that led to Weddington resigning, cooperating with authorities and pleading guilty to bribery and other charges.

Luckie said in a written statement: “I assure my constituents that I have not been involved in any of that conduct, nor am I the target of said investigation. We have, however, discovered errors on some reports that are currently being addressed. I take these matters very seriously and have instructed my team to conduct a full review of the reports in question. Out of respect for the process, I will not be addressing any questions until my team has completed their analysis.”

It is unclear whether Luckie is referring to ethics statements, campaign finance reports or something else. He did not return messages seeking clarification.

Meanwhile, two Democratic sources said Luckie may agree to withdraw from the November ballot as early as today, giving the Montgomery County Democratic Party just enough time to run a substitute candidate. Former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin and former state senator Fred Strahorn are being considered as possible replacements, sources said. Monday is the deadline for political parties to replace candidates who withdraw from a race.

Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Owens said Luckie did not return his messages on Thursday and top party officials researched state law governing replacing candidates on the ballot. “There are some people that have expressed interest (in replacing Luckie in the race) if that were to happen but I’m not prepared to identify those people,” Owens said.

Initially appointed to the Ohio House, Luckie is seeking his fourth two-year term and is running against Republican Jeff Wellbaum this November.

Wellbaum’s campaign manager Paul Harris said, “We are certainly shocked and surprised by the allegations levied toward Rep. Luckie. Our response is to stick to a positive campaign about what Mr. Wellbaum will do for the citizens of the 39th District. Lower taxes, better veterans’ benefits, protecting the unborn and working with Gov. Kasich to bring people and jobs back to Ohio.”

The 39th District includes most of the city of Dayton.

Before going to the Ohio House, Luckie served on the Dayton School Board from 1996 to 2006. He lives in the Wright-Dunbar Historic District and works part-time for JEC Paper & Related Products where he made less than $10,000 last year, according to his financial disclosure statement filed with the state. His state representative job pays $68,000 a year.

In June 2010, Luckie and his wife Lisa Beth Willis filed for divorce just three months after the birth of their daughter. In the May 2011 divorce agreement, Luckie got a 2005 Cadillac Escalade, half of his wife’s 401(k) account and a house in Wright-Dunbar and one in Springboro. The couple agreed to joint parenting and they split up their $56,000 in consumer credit card debt: $36,000 for him, $20,000 for her.

In January 2012, Luckie got into a verbal altercation with his neighbor, Joseph W. Shaw, who is dating his ex-wife, according to a Dayton police report. Lisa Beth Willis said, “I have no comment on that.”

Ohio executes Ronald Phillips; first execution in 3 years

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 3:46 AM
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

Ohio set to execute child killer Ronald Phillips. Jim Otte reporting from Lucasville.

For the first time in more than three years, the state of Ohio has executed a death row inmate.

State officials executed Ronald Phillips by lethal injection this morning officially at 10:43 a.m. at a state prison in Lucasville, about 80 miles south of Columbus.

The execution ended a lull following an unusually drawn-out execution that relied on a controversial lethal-injection drug.

Phillips’ brother arrived late and the warden allowed the execution to be delayed so they could have some time together.

RELATED: Gov. Kasich delays 9 executions in Ohio

The Ohio Parole Board twice voted against recommending clemency for Phillips, 43, who has been on Death Row since September 1993 — nearly 24 years. He was convicted of the rape and murder of 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans in 1993. Doctors who tried to save the little girl documented more than 125 bruises on her, indicating she had been severely beaten in the head, torso, arms, legs and genitalia within a few hours of death, and they found evidence that she was sodomized.

Phillips had been granted earlier reprieves to allow legal arguments over Ohio’s lethal injection process.

The execution came more than three-and-a-half years after Ohio prison officials used a previously untested lethal injection combination to put Dennis McGuire to death on Jan. 16, 2014. Witnesses said McGuire struggled, choked and gasped during the 26 minute execution.

Related: Execution costs rising

The ordeal put Ohio into the national spotlight and triggered a series of legal challenges to the constitutionality of the use of the drug combo. A federal appeals court ruling in June permitted Ohio to use midazolam, which was used in the McGuire execution and others.

Ohio ditched the combo used on McGuire and replaced it with a three-drug protocol, starting with midazolam.

Opponents of the death penalty made an all-out push to stop Phillips’ execution, holding press conferences and vigils, sending 27,000 signatures on a petition to Gov. John Kasich and filing legal briefs in support of Phillips’ request for a stay.

Ohio adopted its current death penalty statute in 1981. Since executions resumed in 1999, Ohio has put 53/54 men to death.

Ohio, which has executed 53/54 condemned inmates since resuming capital punishment in 1999, has 26 more executions scheduled through 2020.

Related: Capital punishment needs changes in Ohio, panel says

Related: Kasich to skip State Fair opening to monitor execution

In 2014, a 22-member task force convened by the Ohio Supreme Court called for a sweeping overhaul in how the death penalty is applied in Ohio. The group, made up of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, academics and others, made 56 recommendations, including eliminating some crimes from being eligible for a capital sentence, requiring strong evidence such as DNA or videotaped confessions in capital cases, and banning the execution of prisoners who suffered from serious mental illness at the time of the crime or at the time of the execution.

In the three years since the report, very few of the recommendations have been implemented.

Six in 10 Americans still support the death penalty for convicted murderers, down from 80 percent support in 1994, according to Gallup Poll. Opposition to capital punishment has climbed to 37 percent, up from 16 percent in 1994, the poll found. The number of executions nationwide has tapered off since peaking at 98 in 1999 to 20 in 2016, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Capital punishment laws are in place in 31 states.


Here’s Phillips’ final statement before his execution:

To the Evans family, I’m sorry you had to live so long with my evil actions. All those years I prayed you’d forgive me and find it in your heart to forgive me and have mercy on me.

Sheila Marie did not deserve what I did to her. I know she is with the Lord and she suffers no more. I’m sorry to each and every one of you that you lived with this pain all those years.

To my family, thank you for your support and faithfulness. Glory be to the lamb.

Amen. I love you all and God bless you. Thank you.

Would having Sherrod Brown as VP have won Clinton the election?

Published: Monday, July 24, 2017 @ 12:20 PM
Updated: Monday, July 24, 2017 @ 12:23 PM

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on June 13, 2016 in Cleveland.(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on June 13, 2016 in Cleveland.(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown was on the shortlist to run with Hillary Clinton in 2016 and he thinks he would have helped the ticket win the key states that cost her the election.

RELATED: For Democrats, Brown is key voice in President Trump era

In an interview with The Washington Post’s Ben Terris, Brown said he may have had an impact in the Midwest states that made the difference in the Electoral College.

Clinton ended up running with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who may have helped the ticket hold the state of Virginia. However, four key states changed to Republican - Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

RELATED: Sherrod Brown says he doesn’t want to be VP

Sherrod Brown thinks he could have helped Democrats win in 2016. But what about 2020? - The Washington Post                                                   

“I don’t pretend that my being on the ticket would have made her win. I don’t know. I mean, if I had gone to Wisconsin and Michigan a lot, anything would have changed those two states,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “My wife thinks we would have won. She thinks we would have won Ohio.”

The article says that Brown and his wife, Connie Schultz, were questioned for three hours as Clinton was considering running mates last year.

“By the end, I really wanted it ” Brown said. “Because that’s human nature.”

Brown said he would have campaigned heavily in the Midwest and focused on Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio - all states Barack Obama won in 2012 that Donald Trump won in 2016.

The article also says that Clinton chose Brown as her running mate, but changed her mind because Ohio Gov. John Kasich would have been allowed to choose Brown’s Senate replacement. A move that likely would have given up the Democratic seat to a Republican.

Review of $9B in Ohio tax breaks launched under pressure

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 4:34 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 4:36 PM

            Review of $9B in Ohio tax breaks launched under pressure
Review of $9B in Ohio tax breaks launched under pressure

State legislative leaders acted under pressure recently to launch a panel of their own making that’s supposed to investigate the $9 billion-plus in tax credits, deductions and exemptions Ohio doles out each year.

Senate President Larry Obhof named his appointees Tuesday to the Tax Expenditure Review Committee lawmakers, and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger named his Wednesday, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

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Both Republicans had blown past deadlines for naming the panel’s members and getting its work started; the first meeting was supposed to happen by June 19.

Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal think tank in Cleveland, brought their oversight to light. The group’s research director issued a release Monday spotlighting the delay.

“It’s past time for the General Assembly to get serious about limiting or eliminating unneeded tax breaks,” said Zach Schiller, the group’s research director. “A first step is for legislative leaders to name members to the committee and for it to start work.”

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Schiller’s announcement was followed up by media inquiries into the matter, the newspaper reported, and soon thereafter the appointments were made.

The committee was created under legislation approved unanimously in December. Its charge is to review state tax expenditures to determine, at least once every eight years, whether they are meeting policy objectives and how they affect economic development. The committee now has 11 months to produce its first report.

The panel was intended to study the expenditures outside the state budget process, but Rosenberger’s spokesman said writing the two-year spending blueprint took priority over the past six months.

“This was a challenging budget cycle,” he said. “Where all areas of the state’s tax structure would be a significant part of any budget cycle, it was especially true this year.”

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Besides Policy Matters Ohio, the Center for Community Solutions and the Ohio Society of CPAs also have advocated a tax expenditure examination. From 2016 to 2019, it’s estimated that Ohio’s income tax expenditures will grow nearly 22 percent to $2.4 billion.

Two-thirds of the state’s tax expenditures are in the sales tax, and Republican Gov. John Kasich has tried more than once to expand the sales tax onto exempted products and services, such as lobbying. The GOP-led Legislature has rejected those efforts.

Some of the biggest sales tax exemptions include sales to churches and certain nonprofits, property used in manufacturing, prescription drugs and equipment purchased by electricity providers, farmers and mining companies, the Dispatch reported.

Those appointed to the tax committee are: Sens. John Eklund, R-Chardon, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Scott Oelslager, R-Canton, chairman of the Finance Committee and Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, the longest-serving Senate Democrat; and Reps. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, a CPA and vice-chairman of Ways and Means, and John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, top-ranking Democrat on Ways and Means.

Lawmakers: Medicaid should cover pediatric drug addiction services

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 12:04 PM
Updated: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 12:04 PM

            Lawmakers: Medicaid should cover pediatric drug addiction services. Photo by Chris Stewart
Lawmakers: Medicaid should cover pediatric drug addiction services. Photo by Chris Stewart

Ohio’s two senators are introducing a bill aimed at helping newborns born addicted recover in a supportive setting.

Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Rob Portman, R-Ohio along with Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and Angus King, I-Maine, have reintroduced a bill that would recognize allow Medicaid to cover pediatric drug addiction recovery services in both hospitals and residential pediatric recovery facilities.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Addicted at birth

The bill - which costs taxpayers nothing - would allow babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome - or withdrawal - to receive quality care in residential facilities. The syndrome is a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women.

In the House, Reps. Tim Ryan, Niles, Mike Turner, R-Dayton and Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., have introduced a companion bill.

Among the facilities currently treating babies born with withdrawal is Brigid’s Path, in Dayton.

Traditionally, babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome have been treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, where treatment costs are more than five times the cost of treating other newborns. The lawmakers say that the NICU - with its bright lights and loud noises - is not the ideal place for babies suffering from withdrawal. Residential pediatric recovery facilities, they argue, offer an alternative more conducive to treating newborns with the syndrome.

Portman said the Ohio Department of Health estimates roughly 84 babies are being treated for drug withdrawal in Ohio hospitals every day.

RELATED: More help aimed at helping babies, mothers

“We must ensure that Ohio moms and babies have access to residential treatment facilities that specialize in giving them the specific kind of care they need and at a lower cost to taxpayers,” said Brown.

In 2015, the Ohio Department of Health released data that there had been 2,174 hospital admissions for neonatal abstinence syndrome, and reported that an average of 84 infants were being treated for drug withdrawal by Ohio hospitals every day.