2018-06-28

House Leadership’s Refusal to Take Meaningful Action Is Out-Of-Step with Ohio Voters’ Perception of Seitz

A new statewide poll shows that 16 percent of Ohio voters believe the claim by powerful House Majority Leader Bill Seitz that a staffer’s claim of widespread sexual harassment in the Ohio House is “meritless.”

That poll was taken before the statewide controversy erupted over why Seitz’s former law firm was hired to investigate those claims – and Seitz’s own conduct. That law firm, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, interviewed only two other people besides Seitz, then charged Ohio taxpayers $12,000 for having those three conversations.

The senior partner at the law firm who oversaw the investigation, W. Stuart Dornette, along with 15 others at Taft, is a political contributor to Seitz, according to records obtained by Checks and Balances Project (C&BP).

A woman who works in the Statehouse had sent a complaint detailing how one male legislator has insisted female staff kiss him, another had rubbed himself against her, and another male staffer insisted a female colleague hug him. The complaint said that inappropriate remarks by Seitz about women in the legislators worsened an already hostile environment for women in the Ohio statehouse.

Seitz declared in a letter to C&BP that the complaint was “meritless.”

The poll indicates that Seitz and House leadership have already lost in the court of public opinion. The poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research of 800 likely Ohio voters May 29-30, 2018 found:

  • 11% of likely women voters overall believe Seitz; 57% do not
  • 14% of independents believe him; 59% do not
  • 24% of Trump voters believe him; 37% do not
  • As for whether voters agree or disagree with a recent call for leaders of the Ohio House to strip Bill Seitz of his leadership titles and all committee assignments, 40% of likely women voters say yes; only 11% say no.

We’ve been asking the leadership of the Ohio House for months to tell the public what steps they taking to ensure that they don’t have a culture of sexual harassment, and that Seitz’s inappropriate behavior was an isolated incident – and not a pattern. They have evaded the questions, which are beginning to take a toll in terms of credibility and public trust.

The House leadership should stop ignoring these questions. They have good will to lose, as a majority of Ohioans still see their elected officials as somewhat (46%) or very (8%) ethical, which is different than states in which voters have little faith in their state government. However, by a 2:1 margin, Ohio voters see corruption in Columbus getting worse. Trump voters think it’s getting worse by 10 points. To see the entire poll, CLICK HERE.

If the legislature won’t act, we will try to do our part by inviting anyone who has been sexually harassed in the Ohio legislature to contact us via CB&P’s confidential and anonymous tip line.

About Pulse Opinion Research

Pulse Opinion Research, LLC is an independent public opinion research firm using automated polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, LLC.

About Checks and Balances Project

Checks and Balances Project is an investigative 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: checksandbalancesproject.org.