Ohio Speaker Rosenberger Hasn’t Answered Our Questions About Bill Seitz, So Watch for Our Mobile Billboard this Week!
Last month, we sent a letter to Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger that asked two questions concerning the conduct of House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, which the Speaker witnessed at the now-infamous goodbye celebration for the Speaker’s chief of staff on January 23 in Columbus. Our questions are:
- Was this the first he’d ever seen or heard of this type of behavior from his powerful Majority Leader?
- What steps was he taking to ensure it wasn’t part of a pattern of inappropriate conduct?
Institutions err when incidents of bad behavior by powerful individuals are assumed to be one-time events. The Ohio House of Representatives need not make that mistake.
More than Tone Deafness?
When Seitz took the podium at the event, he joked about former state Sen. Cliff Hite, who resigned last October after admitting that he had “sometimes asked for hugs and talked with [a state employee] in a way that was not appropriate for a married man, father and grandfather like myself.” Yet, a complaint by the employee said she had rejected Hite’s advances more than a dozen times over two months.
Seitz, at the microphone, declared that Hite’s story could be set to Marvin Gaye’s song, “Let’s Get It On.” Pausing for laughter, he added, “Or better yet, ‘The Answer Is Blowing in The Wind.’” He demeaned another female colleague in the legislature, saying she wears a “tin-foil hat.”
At least one female legislator in attendance walked out. An Ashtabula County Republican candidate for state treasurer, along with four female Democratic legislators, have called for Seitz to resign. The husband and campaign manager for a female Republican state Senator called Seitz and Sen. Matt Huffman, who had also made inappropriate comments, “drunken bullies.”
Leaving the event, Seitz fell and broke his ankle.
Seitz’s comments occurred less than a week after Ohio Speaker Rosenberger had arranged a mandatory seminar on sexual harassment for state House members lead by Attorney General Mike DeWine. Seitz apologized a day after his comments and Rosenberger quickly accepted his apology.
But Speaker Rosenberger won’t tell us if Majority Leader Seitz’s comments are a pattern or a one-time event. So, we’re going to his district with a mobile billboard that asks, “Why the silence?”
You can read our letter to Speaker Rosenberger here.
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative blog 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.
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