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

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 @ 11:21 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 4:49 PM

Rick Perales

Ohio House candidate Jocelyn Smith Tuesday called for her Republican primary opponent, state Rep. Rick Perales, to step down from office and drop out of the race, and threatened to release sexual text messages she says she has between the two of them if he refuses.

She also called for Perales, R-Beavercreek, to take a lie detector test, which he said earlier Tuesday that he would not do. Smith said she won’t take a polygraph unless Perales does.

Smith’s comments came during a bizarre press conference in which some bystanders were asked to leave. Also Tuesday, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said he is reviewing the allegations against Perales that Smith is making in the race.

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Smith and Perales each gave exclusive interviews to the Dayton Daily News last week, telling their differing versions of what happened between them. They are the only candidates on the May 8 Republican primary ballot for the Ohio House 73rd District seat, which includes the western part of Greene County.

Smith, of Fairborn, alleges that in January 2015 she had a meeting with Perales in a restaurant, ostensibly because she wanted to talk to him about politics. They left together and got into his Jeep, where she says “he leaned in, kissed me, grabbed my throat and put pressure on it and just when I felt like I was about to pass out he released.”

Perales has admitted sending inappropriate sexual text messages to Smith, but he denies her allegations that he forcibly kissed her and choked her. He said she sent him topless photos and sexual texts in what was a consensual relationship between two adults that he ended after about two months. Both say they never had sex and Smith denies sending nude photos or sexual texts.

Rosenberger’s press secretary, Brad Miller, said the Speaker is reviewing the back-and-forth between Smith and Perales.

Jocelyn Smith

“We’re still in the information-gathering phase and the Speaker takes all of this very seriously,” Miller said. “But at the time being we want to make sure the truth comes out and that we don’t rush to any kind of judgment.”

Miller said Perales had warned the speaker in 2016 about “inappropriate” texts that had been exchanged by Perales and Smith and that at the time Rosenberger “agreed what was happening was probably inappropriate and should not be happening (but) it was probably a personal matter.”

“Yesterday was the first we had learned about the allegations about choking or forcibly kissing,” said Miller, referring to the Daily News story.

Smith said she didn’t report her allegations of violence to Rosenberger because, “They try to keep things hush. It’s a good old boys club.”

Smith also did not report the incident to police and continued interacting with Perales afterward because, she said, she thought it would help her accomplish some political objectives. She said Perales, 58, wanted to have sex with her but she refused.

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Tuesday’s press conference, which started with Smith lauding the athletic accomplishments of her son, who briefly stood behind her, degenerated into a yelling match between Smith’s campaign advisor, Ralph Wunder, and several Democrats he attempted to throw out of the event. The squabble came after Teri Hobbs, who said she knows Smith because they both officiated high school sporting events, tried to ask a question. Wunder called an end to the news conference after Hobbs refused to leave.

“This is a press conference, lady, stow it or get out,” Wunder said to Hobbs, after earlier forcing Kim McCarthy, the Democrat running for the House seat, to leave.

Outside, Hobbs said she doesn’t know Perales but that Smith has no credibility in her accusations against him.

“This is not her first hurrah with this kind of situation,” said Hobbs. “She has made the same kind of accusations and sent things out to people that probably should not have been.”

“She’s texted pictures to people. I have seen some of them. I have seen too much….What I saw was unclothed. (She sent them) to fellow workers (officiating games),” Hobbs said.

Wunder dismissed Hobbs as “a Democrat already antagonistic to Jocelyn who showed up in order to disrupt the event. That is a well-worn Leftist tactic designed to stifle honest discussion.”

Perales couldn’t be reached for comment after the press conference, but he sent a text before it started that read: “I am comfortable standing on my record, accomplishments and reputation; I’m sure my opponent will likewise have to stand by hers.”

“My opponent’s allegations and claims are baseless and false,” the text says. “I will not stoop to their ‘gutter/Jerry Springer’ politics.”

At the press conference, Smith said she would release evidence if Perales didn’t comply with her demand that he resign.

“Please don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages and other mountains of evidence,” said Smith. “I think you know the honorable thing to do is to step down.”

Smith, 36, is a registered nurse who is a case manager at Sheakley UniComp, a managed care organization. She also teaches at Fortis College.

She was fired from her job as a Clark County deputy sheriff in 2008 after she was accused of showing three co-workers topless pictures of herself, pointing pepper spray in an inmate’s face as a joke, having an inappropriate relationship with a former inmate and insubordination, according to her personnel file and court documents filed in her unsuccessful lawsuit and appeal alleging race and gender discrimination. Smith is black.

In the interview with the Dayton Daily News, Smith said she was fired because then-Sheriff Gene Kelly wanted sex and she did not comply, although she said he never directly asked her for it. Kelly could not be reached for comment and Smith never made those allegations in the court filings.

In a separate court case, a temporary civil protection order was issued in 2009 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. It was later dismissed after a hearing.

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. She completed the program and the case was dismissed. Last year Smith successfully petitioned the court to have the case expunged, court records show.

McCarthy, who will face the winner of the GOP primary, said in an email earlier Tuesday that Smith’s allegations at the very least “indicate an inappropriate relationship, which suggests that Mr. Perales is not genuinely focused on doing his job as a representative.”

If what Smith alleges about what happened in the Jeep is true, McCarthy wrote, the allegations point to a possible assault.

Outside the press conference later Tuesday, McCarthy said Smith’s firing and legal trouble “obviously complicates things.”

“It’s not unusual for people in positions of power to abuse that position for personal gain,”said McCarthy, of Sugarcreek Twp. “Whether that’s what happened here I don’t know.”

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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


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.

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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.

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