May 23, 2018 — Arlington, VA. Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) announced today it has hired leading Ohio First Amendment attorney John C. (“Jack”) Greiner of Graydon Law. Greiner will explore a lawsuit enforcing public access to a Special Counsel Report on Sexual Harassment in the Ohio House of Representatives. The watchdog group is also seeking documents revealing the scope of the investigation, as well as who served in the role of Special Counsel, how they were hired, who decided to hire them and how much the work cost taxpayers.
The Special Counsel’s investigation, first reported by Checks & Balances Project, was initiated by the Ohio House of Representatives GOP Caucus after a complaint by a female staffer. The complaint was written in reaction to House Majority Leader Bill Seitz’s widely criticized comments about women and harassment. It describes behavior by unnamed male legislators that includes one rubbing himself against the complainant, a former member insisting female staff members kiss him on the cheek, and a staffer telling a colleague that he was mad at her and insisted she hug him to make up. We note that Seitz was not named in these three cases.
C&BP learned of the staffer’s letter and Special Counsel’s investigation from the House GOP Caucus legal office on April 25, 2018, at which point it was told the probe was finalized. But no details about the Special Counsel’s work were provided. On May 4, in response to C&BP’s request that Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring release the report and accompanying materials, the House legal office stated that it would “begin processing this request.”
“A courageous staffer wrote to House leadership about humiliating experiences she and other women have had at the hands of powerful male legislators,” said C&BP Executive Director Scott Peterson. “Majority Leader Bill Seitz, mentioned in the staffer’s letter, has declared it ‘meritless.’ We think that judgement should be left to Ohio taxpayers. The report should be released.”
“The Ohio Public Records Act requires government to conduct itself in a transparent and accountable manner,” declared attorney Jack Greiner. “Prompt production of the report would be consistent with the law.”
Jack Greiner is a leading advocate for governmental transparency and has argued numerous cases in the Supreme Courts of Ohio and Kentucky and in appellate courts in the tri-state area. His clients have included newspapers, magazines and television stations in 16 markets. He was awarded the Ohio Society of Professional Journalist Award for Best Defense of the First Amendment.
About Checks and Balances Project
Checks and Balances Project is an eight-year-old watchdog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors. To learn more, visit us at https://checksandbalancesproject.org/.
Contact: Scott Peterson