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.”

Portman named to conference committee on tax bill

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

Jessica Wehrman and Michael Dulman in our Washington Bureau report that Sen. Rob Portman’s influence over the tax legislation racing through Congress will continue.

Portman, R-Ohio, was named last week as one of the senators to be part of a conference committee with the House to forge a final compromise of the GOP-backed plan to overhaul the tax code and reduce tax rates for corporations, small companies, and individuals.

The House and Senate approved slightly different versions of the tax bill, meaning the conferees have to reconcile those differences. Once they do, the House and Senate will have to pass the bill before President Donald Trump can sign it.

Portman, who lobbied hard for the Senate bill, said he is “optimistic” Congress will send legislation to the White House for Trump’s signature before Christmas.

State auditor: City lacks proper records of traffic camera fines

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 1:48 PM
Updated: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 1:48 PM

            traffic cameras
traffic cameras

Ohio’s auditor has faulted a small city near Columbus and its police chief for failing to keep proper records of camera-enforced traffic fines that produce much of the village’s revenue.

An audit of Brice released last week says auditors couldn’t find sufficient documentation for the tickets. The village roughly 12 miles east of Columbus reported the fines brought in more than $170,000 in 2016, accounting for nearly 75 percent of Brice’s general fund total.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Brice faces a class-action lawsuit over fines collected from 2013 to 2015.

State Auditor Dave Yost says Police Chief Bud Bauchmoyer should have kept a complete record of every citation given the scrutiny of the village’s ticketing practices.

Bauchmoyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.


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Richard Cordray brings governor campaign to Dayton

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 12:35 PM

Cordray says Ohio tax policies are wrong-headed

Democrat Richard Cordray brought his brand new campaign for Ohio governor to Dayton on Wednesday as one of his rivals announced he won’t be pulling out of the race after all.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill on Wednesday backed off his pledge to drop out of the 2018 Democratic race for governor if Cordray entered the race.

Cordray, who last month stepped down as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Tuesday he will seek the Democratic nomination in the May 8 primary. Other Democrats in the race 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.

O’Neill, whose decision to stay on the bench after announcing his candidacy is controversial, now says he will only leave the race if one of the other Democratic candidates agrees to his anti-opioid addiction plan.

RELATED: Cordray launches run for governor; holding event in Dayton Wednesday

“I told Rich that I would not be leaving the race unless I heard that someone accepts my proposition that opening the mental hospitals and legalizing marijuana” is the solution to the opioid crisis, said O’Neill, who proposes funding the hospitals with $300 million in annual revenues he believes will come from legalizing marijuana.

RELATED: Supreme court justice not leaving race for Ohio governor

O’Neill was criticized for not resigning from the court when he announced his candidacy on Oct. 29. The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to resign if they enter a partisan race, but O’Neill contends that he would only become a candidate officially when he turns in his nominating petitions by the Feb. 7 deadline.

“I have recused on all future cases, and on Friday I will be announcing my retirement date if my approach is not accepted by Rich,” said O’Neill, who plans to remain on the court until his term ends in 2019 if he withdraws from the governor’s race.

O’Neill ignited further controversy and calls for his resignation last month when he posted remarks on Facebook touting his sexual exploits with “50 very attractive females.” He subsequently apologized for the post.

RELATED: DeWine-Husted ticket called governor’s race ‘dream team’ by GOP state senator

“After his inflammatory, degrading sexist comments, I called on O’Neill to resign from the court,” said Whaley. “More than once, he has disqualified himself from asking - never mind demanding - anyone take up his platform.

Ryan Stubenrauch, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Mike DeWine, said the state already has six regional psychiatric hospitals.

“Mike DeWine has always been against recreational marijuana. The solution to a drug crisis is not adding another,” Stubenrauch said. “Mike DeWine is focused on fighting the opioid crisis and the drug cartels and the drug companies that are responsible for it.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor are also running in the GOP primary.

Cordray declined to comment on O’Neill’s remarks and said any position he takes on legal marijuana in Ohio will take into consideration that Ohio voters in 2015 rejected a ballot initiative to legalize recreational and medical marijuana. Last year the Ohio legislature legalized medical marijuana, but it won’t be available until 2018.

“I’m very concerned about the opioid crisis. It’s obviously the new crisis, like the foreclosure crisis was 10 years ago, that’s washing over the state,” Cordray said in Dayton.

He said the problem needs a bold approach.

“But my way to do it would be to have the state working closely with local officials, non-profit agencies who do so much good in our communities and the private sector on bringing everybody to bear on solving a problem that otherwise will not get solved and has not been solved,” Cordray said. “And by the way it has blown up over the last five years with no real attention and no effective solutions from Columbus.”

Cordray’s visit to Dayton was the second stop of the day on his “Kitchen Table Tour” of Ohio.

“The kitchen table issues will be my focus, issues of economics and how people can afford health care and they can afford the cost of college education for their children or further training or whatever it is that is needed to prepare young people for the workforce,” Cordray said during his speech in front of about 50 people at The Old Courthouse in downtown Dayton. “It’s about finding that better job, and it’s about providing for people’s retirement.”

Cordray served as Ohio treasurer and attorney general before being tapped by then-President Barack Obama to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He said he’s worked for 15 years on issues of economic insecurity.

Cordray touted his battle as attorney general to help Ohioans as the financial collapse and 2009 recession sent foreclosure filings skyrocketing, and his efforts at the consumer bureau, which was set up in the wake of the financial crisis.

“I’m willing to tackle big problems like the foreclosure crisis, like the Wall Street abuses and get results for (Ohioans),” Cordray said. “I think you look at the work that I did on behalf of all Americans at the consumer bureau, that’s the kind of work that progressives feel is important. People like Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Warren, she’s endorsing me today.”

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Controversial Ohio Justice O’Neill to step down from bench on Jan. 26 and run for governor

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 12:23 AM
Updated: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 12:31 PM

Justice Bill O’Neill posts sexual history on Facebook

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill will resign from the court Jan. 26, according to a letter he sent Friday to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who accepted the resignation.  

Kasich, a Republican, will pick a successor to O’Neill, who is the court’s only Democrat. No timetable has been set, but a spokesman for Kasich said a committee will screen candidates and then make recommendations to the governor.  

The timing of O’Neill’s departure from the court continues to draw criticism because of his plans to run for governor, a partisan post, while holding down an officially non-partisan judicial office. 

 After O’Neill announced on Oct. 29 that he would run for governor — and remain on the bench until his formal filing — Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor sent an email to her fellow justices urging them to consider changing the rules of conduct for judges seeking partisan office.  

O’Connor’s emails were obtained by this newspaper using Ohio’s public records laws.  

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor

In a Nov. 2 email to fellow justices, O’Connor said she disagreed with O’Neill’s decision to delay his resignation, which at the time he had said would be Feb. 2. O’Neill contends that he doesn’t have to leave the bench until he files his nominating petitions by the Feb. 7 deadline.

RELATED: Ohio Supreme Court Justice recuses himself after controversy

O’Connor said she told him she disagreed with his interpretation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which says, “Upon becoming a candidate in a primary or general election for a nonjudicial elective office, a judge shall resign from judicial office.” 

O’Connor wrote in her email that “under no circumstances will Bill be able to say that the Supreme Court agrees, approves, or condones his course of action to remain on the court.  

“Simply put we have no mechanism in place to remove a justice when one becomes a partisan candidate,” O’Connor wrote. “Going forward should we revisit some of our Rules of Judicial Conduct? I think that’s a definite yes.”  

While justices cannot directly remove a fellow justice, there is a complaint process through the Ohio Court of Appeals Judges Association that can lead to suspension of a judge’s law license or even disbarment, which would remove the person from the bench.  

When asked if the justices were moving ahead with O’Connor’s suggestion court spokesman Edward Miller said via email, “For today, the (chief justice’s) email will have to speak for itself. We don’t have any info on a timetable.”

RELATED: Supreme court justice not leaving race for Ohio governor

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, on Friday demanded that O’Neill step down immediately and said the state legislature should move to unseat him under a resolution Antani filed on Nov. 9.  

“Once Justice O’Neill is removed from the Supreme Court by my resolution, the Ohio Supreme Court will finally be able to return to the high moral and ethical standard that Ohioans deserve,” Antani said.  

In an earlier interview, David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said Antani’s proposal threatened the independence of the judiciary.  

RELATED: Local lawmaker says state supreme court justice violating conduct code

O’Neill had originally said he would withdraw from the race if former Ohio treasurer and attorney general Richard Cordray became a candidate. But he now says he will be a candidate. On his Facebook page he outlines an eight-point plan for legalizing marijuana, opening more mental institutions, raising the minimum wage, building high speed electric rail and controlling education costs.  

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill

“It is time for Democrats in Ohio to actually have an open primary driven by a vision that provides hope for the future,” O’Neill says on the post.

RELATED: Cordray launches run for governor

Cordray, who last month resigned as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Monday that he is in the race, joining a crowded field of Democrats that includes 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. O’Neill would be the sixth candidate, and the field may still grow larger.

RELATED: Richard Cordray brings governor campaign to Dayton

Larry Ealy of Trotwood, a former exotic dancer known as Luscious Larry, also has obtained petitions to seek the Democratic nomination but he has not submitted them. Ealy garnered 17 percent of the vote in the 2014 Democratic primary, losing to Ed FitzGerald, who went on to lose the General Election to Kasich.

RELATED: Former stripper launches second bid for Ohio governor

The 2018 Republican field got a little smaller when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted agreed to run as a team. Husted had been campaigning for the top slot.

RELATED: DeWine-Husted ticket called governor’s race ‘dream team’ by GOP state senator

Also seeking the Republican nomination are U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.  

Ohio law allows statewide office holders to run for another position while remaining in their jobs, but judges must follow different rules because they are officially non-partisan.  

In response to critics who said he should resign immediately, O’Neill on Nov. 3 said he would recuse himself from “all future cases” but continue to handle existing cases.  

O’Neill ignited further controversy and bipartisan calls for his resignation last month when he posted remarks on Facebook touting his sexual exploits with “50 very attractive females.” That cost him his campaign spokesman, Chris Clevenger, who called the comments “disturbing and misguided” and resigned. O’Neill subsequently apologized for the post.

RELATED: O’Neill’s boast of sexual liaisons brings calls for his resignation

On Friday Cordray called O’Neill a “loose cannon”

“Bill O’Neill is a loose cannon who callously disrespects women, embarassing our party and our state,” Cordray tweeted. “There’s no place for that in this race.”

Assuming Kasich appoints a Republican to the bench, O’Neill’s resignation will leave U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown as the only remaining Democrat holding statewide office in Ohio.  

O’Neill, who took office in 2013 and is paid $156,150 annually, was the first Democrat elected to a seat on the high court since Alice Robie Resnick was elected in 1988. Resnick was the sole Democrat to hold statewide elected office in 2006 when she decided to not seek re-election after she was arrested and subsequently convicted for drunken driving in 2005.  

Democrats Eric Brown and Yvette McGee Brown both served on the court between Resnick and O’Neill, but they were appointed to their seats. Both lost elections to retain their seats.

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