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

Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 2:46 PM
Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012 @ 7:27 PM
By: Laura A. Bischoff - Staff Writers

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.”

4 statewide elected officials come out against marijuana legalization

Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 4:05 PM
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2015 @ 11:39 AM
By: Laura A. Bischoff - Columbus bureau

Four Republican statewide leaders came out strongly against legalizing marijuana in Ohio and they took shots at a proposed constitutional amendment that would name just 10 growing sites for legal pot.

Attorney General Mike DeWine called it a “stupid idea” and Treasurer Josh Mandel said while it might lead to increased Girl Scout cookie sales, it’s a bad idea.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a worse idea,” said Secretary of State Jon Husted. “If it makes it to the ballot, I would vigorously ask the voters defeat it because I think it would be awful for Ohio.”

Husted added that it is “offensive” that Ohioans will be asked to grant a business monopoly through an amendment to the Ohio Constitution.

ResponsibleOhio plans to seek a constitutional amendment in November 2015 that would name 10 growing sites for legal marijuana, create a marijuana control commission and allow for about 1,200 retail stores across the state. Investors backing ResponsibleOhio are expected to control the grow sites.

The group is expected to roll out ballot language in the coming weeks. That language will have to be approved by DeWine’s office as an accurate summary and then the Ohio Ballot Board, headed by Husted, will have to certify that it is one issue. After that, the group will need to collect 306,000 valid signatures from registered voters by July 1 to make the November ballot.

State Auditor Dave Yost said Ohio should have a constitutional amendment that prohibits any future amendments that carve out business monopolies. In 2009 Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment that named four specific casino sites.

Yost asked if creating a monopoly for whorehouses might be next.

Gov. John Kasich is also on the record opposing legalizing marijuana in Ohio.

ResponsibleOhio spokeswoman Lydia Bolander said marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that wastes $120 million a year in enforcement expenses and denies sick people access to medical pot.

“ResponsibleOhio’s plan will create a tightly regulated, safe, open and transparent market, bringing much-needed revenue to our communities and creating thousands of jobs,” Bolander said. “Ohioans deserve a mature, honest conversation about our proposal because ultimately, the decision about whether to pass this amendment will be made by voters, not politicians.”

Former Gov. Strickland ‘seriously’ considering challenge to Portman

Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 4:00 PM
Published: Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 2:33 PM
By: Jack Torry - Washington Bureau

A onetime senior adviser to former Gov. Ted Strickland said today he is “seriously” considering a challenge next year to Republican Sen. Rob Portman, which would set up a race between two of the best-known political figures in Ohio.

Sandy Theis, executive director of the progressive organization Progress Ohio and a Strickland adviser during his 2010 gubernatorial election, said top aides to the former governor say “he is seriously considering a run for the U.S. Senate, but has not announced a final decision.”

Although Strickland will be 74 years old next August, he could present a formidable challenge to Portman, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Strickland not only would have the support of organized labor, but he has close ties to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination next year.

In addition, Theis said Strickland would offer a stark contrast to Portman on the divisive issue of international trade. Strickland has been an opponent of international trade agreements, having voted as a member of the U.S. House in 1993 against the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Portman has been a strong advocate for negotiating agreements that would eliminate barriers erected by foreign countries against U.S. exports. In addition to voting for NAFTA a member of the U.S. House, he served as U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush.

In an interview earlier this month, Strickland said “trade can be good and helpful, and it can create jobs, but my concern has been, while I was in Congress and the governor’s office, that the trade deals we have negotiated have not been, by and large, good for the country.”

The drawback to a Strickland candidacy is his age and the fact that he lost his bid for re-election in 2010 to Republican John Kasich.

As reports of Strickland’s possible candidacy circulated today, Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee aid that “Ohio families still haven’t recovered from Ted Strickland’s tenure — under Strickland’s misguided policies and failed leadership, Ohio lost over 350,000 jobs and was 48th in job creation.”

Kasich in Dayton pushes tax plan

Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 3:47 PM
Published: Tuesday, February 03, 2015 @ 3:03 PM
By: Laura A. Bischoff - Staff Writer

Gov. John Kasich touted his budget plan in Dayton on Tuesday, saying that income tax cuts and exempting some small businesses from income taxes will drive innovation in Ohio and create jobs.

“Starting a small business and sustaining a small business is extremely difficult. Most small businesses don’t make it. What we’re doing is making sure we can breathe some life in,” Kasich said after his speech before a group of business students at the University of Dayton.

Kasich said he wants to do what he can to help small businesses even if it means they get a tax break that other business owners don’t get.

“Small businesses comprise the majority of jobs in Ohio, so the better they do the better people do because people need to get work,” Kasich said. “(Small business owners) also have to live in the community and they also have to pay some other taxes.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Columbus began taking aim at some of Kasich’s tax proposals, which calls for offsetting a huge income tax cut with increases in sales taxes, cigarette taxes, oil and gas drilling taxes and the Commercial Activities Tax on businesses’ gross receipts.

Ohio House Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said much of Kasich’s plan is “laudable” but he called the sales tax “regressive” and said the severance tax increases could lead to job losses at oil companies already coping with declining oil revenue.

Antani also said he is concerned about “tax shifting,” where one tax goes down but others go up. “To pay for (a tax cut) we don’t raise taxes on the poor and the middle class,” said Antani. “We do it by cutting spending.”

Kasich’s budget is a blueprint for spending $138.7 billion in state and federal money over two years. The phased-in across-the-board income tax cut would drop the top personal income tax rate to 4.1 percent, down from 5.33 percent last year. Small businesses with less than $2 million in annual sales would pay no income taxes. The sales tax — which the state increased in 2013 to 5.75 percent — would rise to 6.25 percent under Kasich’s plan

“Governor Kasich’s budget proposal will shift incomes away from families already feeling squeezed in order to give even more tax breaks to the wealthy,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper in an emailed response to the speech. “We already know that this misguided, trickle-down approach does not work, nor does it face the critical issues facing hard-working Ohioans: fewer jobs, lower paychecks and stagnant wages. This tax shift proposed by Governor Kasich puts more money in the pockets of the wealthy few at a time where many people are working but not being paid a living wage.”

Kasich’s budget also calls for changes in school funding, revamping of human service delivery and a cap on public college and university tuition hikes.

On Tuesday Ohio House Finance Committee members began budget hearings, with Tim Keen, Kasich’s budget director, giving detailed testimony.

State Rep. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea, noted that a half-percentage point increase in the state sales tax rate combined with local sales taxes would push the total sales tax rate to 8.5 percent in Cuyahoga County.

Keen said the increase is offset by a 23 percent cut to the income tax rates.

“We will see what the reaction is back home,” Dovilla responded.

The actual budget bill, which will run thousands of pages, is expected to be introduced next week as hearings continue this week and next, said House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith, R-Gallipolis.

In Dayton, Kasich covered topics ranging from tax cuts to the current national controversy over vaccines.

“You have to get vaccinated,” Kasich said in response to a reporter’s question. “This is not a choice. Are you kidding me? I mean, my kids are gonna go to school I want to make sure that they get vaccinated for those basic things that protect all of us.”

In a speech peppered with anecdotes, Kasich told the students Ohio is becoming the “cool” place to be and they should stay here after graduation, bringing their ideas and energy to a generation of new businesses.

Kasich asked what it would take for the students who planned to leave the state to choose instead to stay. One student from the Chicago area said if his family moved here he would stay.

“And so you are going to live with your mom and your dad?” Kasich asked.

“Not that close,” said the student to laughs from the audience.

“You have feet in your pajamas too?” Kasich said, prompting more laughs. “It’s nice that you want to go back and be with your family,” he added. “Nobody can complain about that. That’s a good thing.”

Kasich said previous state tax cuts enacted in the state are working and Ohio has nearly 300,000 more jobs than when he took office. He also said the state is very close to finalizing a deal with a $1.1 billion company that wants to do cloud computing in Columbus. Kasich would not name the company but in October the Columbus Dispatch reported that he said Amazon wanted to open a data center in Ohio.


What in the world is going on with Oregon's governor?

Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
Published: Sunday, February 15, 2015 @ 9:00 AM
By: Ben Levin

Trending on Facebook

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, announced his resignation Friday, ending one of the strangest political scandals the state has seen.

This is a big deal because Kitzhaber is an institution in Oregon politics: He was elected to serve as governor for the first time in 1994, then again in '98, then later in 2010 and 2014. (Video via John Kitzhaber for Oregon Governor)

But shortly after his most recent inauguration, it was discovered Kitzhaber's fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, was allegedly using government contacts to enrich her private business. (Video via KOBI)

"Kitzhaber says the couple knew they were operating in a gray area and tried to keep clear lines between her activities as first lady and her paid work as an environmental consultant," KOIN reported

Hayes earned about $213,000 as a consultant during Kitzhaber's first term, and multiple sources said she frequently guided government contracts toward firms that did business with her.

She's now being accused of running what's called a "pay-for-play" scheme where her influence over the former governor was translated into jobs and money for people willing to give her business.

This isn't the first time we've seen negative press surrounding Hayes. In October of last year, she admitted to a 1997 green-card marriage, for which she was paid $5,000.

"Seventeen years ago I made a serious mistake by committing an illegal act when I married a person so that he could maintain residency in the United States," she's said of that decision. 

Oregon voters were able to forgive a sham marriage, but they weren't willing to forgive this. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle are calling for the governor's resignation.

"I met with the governor this morning, and the speaker and I both met with him, and I asked him for his resignation," said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney.

With Kitzhaber now gone, Oregon's next governor will be the current Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown. And here's where it gets a little weird: On Wednesday, Kitzhaber reportedly asked Brown to return to Oregon from a conference in Washington, D.C., for a one-on-one meeting. (Video via Oregon Social Business Challenge

>>Related: Kate Brown to make history as first openly bisexual governor

Brown returned, meeting with Kitzhaber Wednesday afternoon. The governor was expected to announce his resignation at that meeting, but instead he apparently asked Brown why she "came back early," conveniently ignoring the fact he asked her to. 

Brown herself said the meeting was strange, calling it a "bizarre and unprecedented situation." 

Bizarre and unprecedented are good words, but others have also called the whole thing "illegal." As of Friday, both the state attorney general and the FBI are looking into the couple. 

This video includes an image from the Oregon National Guard.