Candidate now accusing local lawmaker of ‘fondling’ her

Published: Tuesday, April 03, 2018 @ 2:47 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 4:45 PM

State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, and Jocelyn Smith, a Fairborn Republican. They are running in the May 8 primary race for the Ohio House 73rd District seat.
State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, and Jocelyn Smith, a Fairborn Republican. They are running in the May 8 primary race for the Ohio House 73rd District seat.

The Republican candidate accusing State Rep. Rick Perales of misconduct sent a letter to Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger on Friday criticizing him for not contacting her and adding “fondling” to her list of allegations against Perales.

Rosenberger responded to Jocelyn Smith in a letter Tuesday, saying she should contact law enforcement about any allegations involving physical abuse.

A separate allegation from Smith that Perales refused to sponsor a piece of legislation because she would not have sex with him could constitute a violation of House rules, Rosenberger wrote, but he said Smith needs to provide evidence to back up the claim.

Perales, R-Beavercreek, has denied that allegation, as well as many other claims made by Smith. He does admit having a brief, consensual sexting relationship with her that he says ended three years ago.

Smith of Fairborn is challenging Perales in the May 8 primary for the Ohio House 73rd seat, which includes much of western Greene County. She has accused Perales of choking and kissing her in January 2015 and then sending her sexually oriented texts.

RELATED: Ohio House Rep. denies opponent’s claim he kissed and choked her

In her letter to Rosenberger, Smith added a new allegation, accusing Perales of “fondling” her. Perales has denied kissing or choking Smith and says no intimate touching occurred. He says he never sent nude photographs of himself but that Smith sent him topless photos of herself, which she denies.

“She’s a liar,” Perales has said. “Certainly her relationship (with me) was strategic. She planned it all out. I’d say there’s a track record out there of her doing similar things, so it’s not a one-time thing.”

Ralph Wunder, Smith’s campaign consultant, said in an email Tuesday that the fondling allegation is not new.

“Whether it’s called fondling, groping, accosting, grabbing, inappropriate touching, etc. etc…is just a choice of verbs,” Wunder wrote. “Jocelyn has told me from day one there was also groping/fondling involved.”

RELATED: Credibility, #MeToo could be factors in local House race

In a March 23 interview with this newspaper, however, Smith made no mention of fondling by Perales. Smith said in that interview that she had continued texting, talking and visiting with Perales after the alleged choking incident because she wanted to accomplish some political objectives.

Perales notified Rosenberger in 2016 that he and Smith had exchanged inappropriate text messages during the first couple of months of 2015, the speaker’s office confirmed last week. At the time, Rosenberger viewed it as a personal matter that did not violate House rules, his office said.

After learning from a March 27 Dayton Daily News story of Smith’s allegation that Perales had choked and kissed her, Rosenberger decided to open an inquiry.

In his letter to Smith on Tuesday, Rosenberger urged Smith to report any allegations of physical abuse to law enforcement, adding, “if they are true.”

“I look forward to reviewing the findings of their investigation. After this review, I will determine if any further steps are needed,” Rosenberger wrote.

Rosenberger did say a violation of House rules could have occurred if Perales — as Smith alleges — refused to sponsor a specialty plate license bill benefiting pancreatic cancer because she would not have sex with him.

“If true, this does fall under the purview of the Ohio House of Representatives and would call into question both ethical and legal concerns,” Rosenberger wrote.

RELATED: ‘Don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages,’ local candidate tells lawmaker

Perales said Smith never asked him to sponsor the bill and he denied her allegation. Perales did co-sponsor the House version of a Senate bill that included the plate and was approved in 2016.

Smith has called for Perales to resign the seat he has held for three terms and drop out of the race, which would likely make Smith the Republican nominee since she is the only other candidate in the race. The winner will face Democrat Kim McCarthy of Sugarcreek Twp. in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Democratic Ohio House candidate Kim McCarthy, who is running for the Ohio 73rd House seat.(Staff Writer)

In her letter to Rosenberger on Friday, Smith said she “very graciously offered to withhold the release of the worst of his texts to spare his family and friends the embarrassment of the revelations.” But, the letter continues, if Perales doesn’t resign “he leaves me with no choice but to gradually begin releasing the documentation, and the chips will have to fall where they will.”

Smith’s credibility has been questioned by her former consultant, Michael Talev of Cleveland, who said she told him last year that she had had a non-violent, consensual sexting affair with Perales. Talev said he resigned from her campaign after Smith said she wanted to send sexually explicit texts she says came from Perales to his wife, children and grandchildren.

Smith denies Talev’s allegations and said she fired him for non-performance.

RELATED: Consultant says challenger Jocelyn Smith out to ‘ruin’ Rep. Perales

Smith has also been accused of previously sending unwanted topless photographs of herself to men and of harassing other men. An allegation that Smith showed topless photos to three co-workers was one of the reasons she was fired in 2008 by the Clark County Sheriff. Smith said most allegations made in her firing were untrue. She lost her lawsuit and appeal challenging her firing, according to Clark County court records.

Several high school sports referees also received unwanted nude photos from Smith, according to Teri Hobbs, a high school basketball referee who previously worked with Smith before Smith was suspended from officiating basketball by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Wunder dismissed Hobbs’ remarks as a “Leftist tactic designed to stifle honest discussion.”

OSHAA spokesman Tim Stried said the association had received complaints about Smith, and complaints from her, but he would not reveal the nature of those complaints.

A 2009 a temporary civil protection order was issued against Smith by a Clark County Common Pleas Domestic Relations Court magistrate after a former boyfriend accused her of harassing him after they broke up, Clark County court records show.

The temporary order was dismissed after a hearing 17 days later in which the magistrate cautioned Smith against escalating her behavior.

In 2014, a Warren County judge placed Smith in a pre-trial diversion program on three counts of telephone harassment of a man, according to court records. The case was dismissed after she completed the program and in September she had the case expunged, court records show.

In March 2015 Smith obtained a temporary civil protection order against the man in that case and it was dismissed  six weeks later at her request, according to Greene County court records.

The political fallout of the allegations against Perales may not be clear until the May 8 election.

“Right now the voters cannot sort the situation out: Is it an affair that went wrong? Or is it an assault? Or is it both,” said Doris Adams, chairwoman of the Greene County Democratic Party. “In any case, it shows that neither of the Republican candidates are fit to represent the people of the 73rd district.”

John Caupp, executive chairman of the Greene County Republican Party. JIM OTTE/Staff(Staff Writer)

John Caupp, executive chairman of the Greene County Republican Party, said he doesn’t believe anything illegal transpired between Smith and Perales.

“I believe some bad judgment probably took place among the couple candidates we have running for office,” Caupp said in reference to Smith and Perales. “Due process will happen May 8 at the ballot box.”

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

U.S. Senate candidates Renacci and Brown spar over Trump’s comment about immigrants

Who is running?: 18 local state House and Senate on ballot this year

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Brown takes shot at Renacci in negative ad

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 2:36 PM

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)(Susan Walsh)

THE AD: A 30-second television commercial for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

WHERE TO SEE IT: State broadcast television and here 

VIDEO: Unflattering images of Renacci. Then it concludes with Sherrod Brown chatting with industrial workers.

SCRIPT: Voice of a narrator: The U.S. Congress. There’s 68 teachers, 15 farmers, four pilots, but only one lobbyist. That’s right. Jim Renacci’s been a lobbyist even while in Congress. And what’s he done? He voted to make it easier for lobbyists to hold key government positions and harder to investigate conflicts of interest. And now he’s running for Senate? Jim Renacci. He’s always looked out for himself.”

VOICE OF SHERROD BROWN: “I’m Sherrod Brown and I approved this message.”

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ANALYSIS: The commercial is technically accurate, but the implication that Renacci lobbied Congress is not accurate. After first being elected to the House in the 2010, Renacci filed to terminate his status as a registered lobbyist for Smokerise International Group Limited, an Ohio company Renacci controlled. According to an Associated Press story on March 28 of this year, Renacci’s attorney did not file the de-activation papers until May of 2011, four months into Renacci’s first term. AP also reported “Renacci continued to file and digitally sign lobbyist disclosure reports … through mid-2011, as an active lobbyist would. His campaign refused to specify why he filed the reports if, as it contended, they were not required or to address the inaccurate reporting of his contributions.” But Renacci’s staff has consistently asserted the congressman never lobbied anyone at any time during his career in Congress although anyone viewing the commercial would assume Renacci has been a registered lobbyist through his congressional career.

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Brown’s commercial is an effort to define Renacci as an untrustworthy lobbyist. But it is something of surprise for a two-term incumbent senator to open his campaign with such a negative commercial against his opponent. The commercial does not mention any of Brown’s accomplishments during his two terms. And it is a sign that the Brown/Renacci race will be unusually negative.

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Ohio drivers will licenses will get a new look, and come in the mail starting this summer

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 9:47 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 9:47 AM

Ohio drivers will get license by mail starting July 2

Ohio is ending the same-day issuing of Ohio driver's licenses and will mail them instead to save money and increase security.

Licenses will arrive about 10 days after they're issued once the change takes effect July 2, the Department of Public Safety said. Drivers will be issued temporary licenses and ID cards in the meantime.

RELATED: Driver’s license suspensions soaring

The agency says the temporary cards will be valid for proof of identity and residence when voting.

Drivers can also request driver's licenses or ID cards that meet federal regulations for travel. Travel restrictions taking effect in October 2020 will require federally compliant driver's licenses to pass through airport security. There's no extra cost for these licenses.

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A star in the upper right-hand corner of licenses will designate those compliant with federal regulations. Obtaining that credential will require documents such as birth certificates or passports, copies of social security cards and utility bills showing people's address.

Ohio joins 41 other states that provide licenses and ID cards through the mail.
The change announced Wednesday will prevent loss and theft of secure material from motor vehicle bureaus, provide a centralized and more secure printing facility and save money in the form of the cost of upgrading security measures at individual bureaus, the Public Safety department said.

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New restrictions may be coming for some drivers

Ohio lawmakers seem ready to relax some restrictions on the driving privileges of those who have lost their licenses and have little means to pay the reinstatement fees.  

At least three bills related to license suspensions are pending in the Ohio legislature.  In one, co-sponsored by Jim Butler, R-Ohio, limited driving privileges would be restored for those whose driver’s licenses were suspended for issues unrelated to driving or using a vehicle for criminal purposes.  

In Ohio, there are at least 32 ways people can lose their driver’s license, including dropping out of high school.  

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In another measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, judges would be allowed to impose community service in lieu of paying reinstatement fees.

The proposed reforms come as license suspensions soar in Ohio. Last year, 1.1 million Ohioans had their driver’s license suspended for one or more reasons — nearly 12 percent of those old enough to drive in the state.

“There’s this permanent underclass that we’ve created,” Huffman said. “If you’re $4,000 or $5,000 down and that’s what it takes to get your driver’s license, you just don’t do it.”

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Should people work for Medicaid? Here’s how to weigh in.

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 9:16 AM


            FILE
FILE

The clock has started for the next round of public comment on Ohio’s proposal to create the state’s first ever work requirements associated with Medicaid.

The new rules would add requirements to work or go to school at least 20 hours per week to remain eligible for benefits under the health insurance program for low-income Ohioans, which is jointly funded by the state and federal government.

The request needs to be approved by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which opened a 30-day public comment period on May 15.

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On May 1 the Ohio Department of Medicaid officially submitted the request to create the work requirements.

The Republican-majority Ohio General Assembly put the language into the budget last year that required the Ohio Department of Medicaid to seek permission to add the job requirements for those covered through Medicaid expansion.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, has said the work requirements exempt the neediest while driving those with the ability to work toward self sufficiency.

But opponents, including dozens of health care lobbying groups, have pushed back against the proposed rules, saying the changes will make health outcomes worse and the state will waste money on the administration costs of the new program rules.

RELATED: Kasich vs. lawmakers in Medicaid fight: ‘If you break it, you own it’

The state’s request for work requirements states that the majority of Ohioans covered by Medicaid expansion will be exempted. The proposal estimates about 36,000 will not meet the work requirements and won’t be exempt, and out of those enrollees about 18,000 will ultimately lose their Medicaid eligibility.

But some opponents to the proposal, including Cleveland-based Center for Community Solutions, have questioned that math because the state also underestimated how many people would lose SNAP benefits when Ohio added work requirements for the food assistance program.

Public comment on the work requirement can be submitted online.

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Recreational marijuana closer to Ohio ballot — but lots of work ahead

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 3:03 PM


            A marijuana user attempts to light an oversized joint during a 420 Day celebration on “Hippie Hill” in Golden Gate Park on April 20, 2018 in San Francisco, California. In the first year that marijuana is legal for recreational use in California, thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered in Golden Gate Park to celebrate 420 day, the de facto holiday for marijuana advocates, with large gatherings and “smoke outs” in many parts of the United States. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES
A marijuana user attempts to light an oversized joint during a 420 Day celebration on “Hippie Hill” in Golden Gate Park on April 20, 2018 in San Francisco, California. In the first year that marijuana is legal for recreational use in California, thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered in Golden Gate Park to celebrate 420 day, the de facto holiday for marijuana advocates, with large gatherings and “smoke outs” in many parts of the United States. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES

Legalized recreational marijuana is one small step closer to appearing on Ohio ballots in 2019.

The Ohio Ballot Board certified a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office. The amendment was previously certified earlier this month by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Ohio Families for Change is behind the effort to bring the matter to Ohio’s 2019 ballot.

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The group now faces the large task of collecting 305,591 valid signatures — equal to 10 percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election in 2014. Signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties must be collected, and within each county the group must collect enough signatures equal to five percent of the vote total cast for governor.

The group’s proposal:

• Would allow Ohioans older than 21 to possess, grow, use, sell and share marijuana;

• Would not change the already approved medical marijuana program starting this year;

• Has a residency requirement for business licences;

• Calls for protections for landlords and employers who want to prohibit marijuana activities on their property.

The Ohio General Assembly would have authority to write laws governing impairment, uses in public and restrictions for minors.

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Getting on the statewide ballot is a heavy lift, requiring organizational skills and millions of dollars. Eight petitions to legalize marijuana have been certified over the past five years but only one — ResponsibleOhio’s November 2015 effort — made it to the ballot. That year, Ohio voters soundly rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.

In June 2016, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a plan to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. State officials are writing regulations, reviewing applications and inspecting operations for the new industry, which is expected to kick off Sept. 8.

Read more coverage:

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