– 16 Attorneys From Taft Made Campaign Contributions to Seitz, Who Worked at Taft for 36 Years
– Attorney General DeWine’s spokesman: “They conduct that [conflicts] review internally and tell us if they’re clean or not…. It’s their professional licensure at risk.”
Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) has filed an ethics complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel against the law firm of Taft Stettinus & Hollister LLP (Taft), as well as a senior partner of the firm, W. Stuart Dornette. The complaint requests a determination on whether Dornette and his firm failed to conduct a proper conflicts review when appointed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to serve as Special Counsel for the Ohio House of Representatives in an internal investigation.
The Special Counsel’s investigation, first reported by Checks & Balances Project, concerned a two-and-a-half-page complaint by a woman who works in the Ohio statehouse. The staffer’s complaint was filed with the House administrative office, and it described a culture of harassment in the House. It declared that statements made by Rep. Bill Seitz at a going away party for a senior House staff member were sexual harassment and worsened an already hostile environment for women in the Ohio statehouse.
The investigation was first questioned in an Associated Press story that was run by 196 Ohio news organizations. A Toledo Blade editorial said, “the review of Bill Seitz… must be revisited to have credibility.”
According to statements made by DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney to the Associated Press, Taft reported having no conflicts with the contract to serve as Special Counsel. “They conduct that review internally and tell us if they’re clean or not…. It’s their professional licensure at risk.”
The assignment communication from the Attorney General’s office to Taft was addressed to Senior Partner Stuart Dornette who, according to a campaign finance disclosure report from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, has been a financial contributor to a Seitz.
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.