Public Still Needs to Know: What Steps Is He Taking to Determine if Seitz’s Improper Conduct Is Part of Pattern?
Ohio House Majority Leader Bill Seitz recently made comments about women that many people found to be degrading and offensive. Speaker Cliff Rosenberger swiftly accepted a public apology from Seitz, though the behavior occurred less than a week after House members attended a sexual harassment seminar.
Soon it was business as usual again in the Ohio House of Representatives. So, we sent a letter to the Speaker that asked two questions:
- 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?
We received no response.
We asked these questions again in a variety of ways after our direct letter went unanswered. We followed with an op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, as well as sent a mobile billboard to tour the Speaker’s district, resulting in questions in the Wilmington News Journal and Hillsboro Times.
The Speaker’s response is to have his office say that he had formed a commission on standards for the House.
Basic Questions Unanswered
But that doesn’t answer the pair of basic questions about Rep. Seitz’s conduct.
Public trust in so many American institutions, from Michigan State University to NBC’s Today Show to Uber, has been badly eroded because leadership learned of bad conduct, but chose not to investigate if it was part of a larger pattern. They didn’t ask the hard questions. The Ohio Legislature can avoid adding its name to that list.
If Mr. Rosenberger was confident that Seitz’s inappropriate conduct was a one-off, or that he was taking steps to confirm that it was, he’d say so.
But he isn’t. In fact, the Speaker’s silence on this pair of questions is getting more awkward – and telling.
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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