Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Monday, July 31

Gov: Strickland (D) Responds to Smear in Interview

Hat tip to the excellent blog Dayton Politics for linking to this story in today's Athens News, in which gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) and his spokesperson Keith Daley comment on the ugly and baseless rumor-mongering that got Republican operative and former Ohio Restoration Project employee Guy Lankford into trouble, and eventually fired, last week:
The race for Ohio governor got dirtier last week with several personal allegations made against Democratic nominee Ted Strickland. ...

Lankford, who was working as a "social conservative coordinator" for the Ohio Republican Party, sent an e-mail to a group of "pro-family friends" attacking Strickland's church attendance, work ethic, voting record and other issues. The e-mail also alleged that Strickland and his wife, Frances, live in separate states, and included a link to an article on [controversial Republican operative Scott] Pullins' web site that questions Strickland's sexual orientation. ...

Strickland ... on Friday denied all of the charges in an interview with The Athens NEWS, and said they show that the Republicans will do anything to win the governor's election.

Keith Dailey, spokesperson for Strickland, pointed out that Strickland has a home in Lisbon, which is in the 6th District, as well as another home in Columbus, about five minutes from the airport.

"Frances obviously lives in Ohio," Dailey said. He added that while Frances Strickland does have family members in Kentucky whom she visits, she lives with her husband in Ohio.

"I think they're just grasping at straws," Dailey said. He added that the attack is full of lies and innuendos, and it is "kind of sad that they would drag Ted's family into this."

As for the issue of whether Strickland goes to church, Dailey pointed out that Strickland is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and has served as a pastor, as well as serving in other positions for the church.

Strickland said that the 2004 presidential election showed that the Republican Party would use personal attacks and any other means to win an election, and this is just another example of those attacks.

"They are scared to death of losing power," Strickland said. "They know the polls show the people of Ohio are ready for change." ...

Strickland said he was disappointed to see the allegations made against him, but not surprised.

"Nothing surprises me anymore," Strickland said. "Unfortunately, there are people in the extreme radical right end of the Republican Party that will do anything to hold onto power. This is just an example of that."

He added that the personal attacks were "hurtful" and that they were just innuendos and outright lies.

"That's what desperate people do when they know the voters are rejecting them," Strickland said. "The voters are rejecting this crowd. They are tired of what's happening in Ohio. They want change." ...
The article goes on to quote Pullins, who concedes that he has no basis for his outlandish insinuation except that it seems "weird" to him that the Stricklands married "late" (age 46) and have no children. He also tries to shift the blame for spreading rumors to gubernatorial primary candidate Bryan Flannery (D-Strongville), whose faltering campaign resorted to wild finger-pointing and slander in the last days before the May 2nd primary.

4 Comments:

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IT IS fair game because Democrat Brian Flannery brought it up in the primary so whatever cannon fodder (THAT THE GOP DOES HAVE)on this "topic" can't ever backfire becuase THE DEMOCRATS UNLEASHED THIS FIRST (shot)and once the genie is let out of the bottle by his own party, then it is absolutely fair game for all to join in on and PILE ON THE DIRT!

I don't agree with it, but that's Politics 101, boys and girls and if you don't like it, DON'T VOTE!!!!

 
At 4:00 AM, Blogger QEd said...

Ohio Taxpayers Association President Scott Pullins connected to 2004 suicide of Army veteran

Reports have circulated that Gary Lankford, who was fired by the Ohio Republican Party for an e-mail suggesting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland and his wife were gay, based that e-mail on a posting made in a blog by Scott Pullins, President of the Ohio Taxpayers Association. For this reason, Blogger has been notified of Pullins' blog containing objectionable content.

It's time that Scott Pullins be swift-boated, and it can be done very easily by making the connection between Pullins and the 2004 suicide of a Columbus city worker and Army Veteran named Brandon Ratliff.

The following is from a posting in Ratliff's memory:

Lt. Brandon Ratliff

He commanded the Army Reserve's 909th Forward Surgical Team in Afghanistan. The unit he commanded provides medical care on the front lines, and Ratliff's duties included retrieving wounded soldiers from the battlefield and tallying the dead and wounded. Ratliff spent nine months in Afghanistan organizing the medical unit and, when he had to, picking up and carrying soldiers broken by helicopter crashes and land mines. He did his duty. He was decorated eight times. Upon returning home from the war, Ratliff was denied the promotion and pay raise he was promised by his employer before he was deployed. Depressed from his experiences on active duty, hopelessness set in, and on Thursday, March 18, 2004, Lt. Ratliff committed suicide.

Lt. Ratliff graduated from Groveport Madison High School in 1992 and received a Bachelors Degree in Health Administration from Franklin University in 2000. He was an employee of the Columbus Department of Health as a STD Intervention Specialist. He was committed to helping people and was a highly respected and greatly loved member of his family, community, and country. He is beloved and survived by his mother, father, stepfather, grandmother, uncles and aunts, many other family members; best friend, and countless other friends, comrades, and co-workers.

Lieutenant Brandon Ratliff

"I am sorry they failed you, Mom"
02 April 2004

LIEUTENANT BRANDON L RATLIFF

"SERVED IN AFGHANISTAN OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM ONLY TO COME HOME AND FIGHT ANOTHER BATTLE WITH THE JOB HE LEFT BEHIND. MAY HE REST IN PEACE AND LET HIM KNOW HE IS MUCH LOVED AND MISSED. I WILL JOIN YOU SON."
31 Mar 2004

Lt. Brandon Ratliff

"A great friend and a selfless person. May you find peace and know how much we all miss you."
03 April 2004

Dear Friends, Not to get political on ya'll, but please, if you are fortunate enough to have a veteran in your life, take a minute to let them know how much you love and appreciate them.

I am saddened and ashamed to tell about my friend, co-worker, and American hero, Brandon Ratliff, who gave until he had no more left to give.

In civilian life he served the poor in the local health department and in the military, he carried a stretcher around the Afghan hills sometimes only retrieving pieces of comrades.

He was decorated 8 times in 9 months. He had only been back home 5 months before taking his life. He was 31, a college grad, charming and a real magnet to the opposite sex.

He was a human that I could look to for inspiration, knowing I could never rise to his level, but always being inspired by his example.

It took his tragic passing for me to understand what it means when it is said, "some gave all." Thank a veteran for serving our country. Please let the reception the veterans of Vietnam received be a lesson to us now. God bless and keep you all. Thank you for letting me share this with you. - Scott
04 April 2004

------------
In a report issued by Mayor Michael Coleman on April 22, 2004, the City of Columbus noted what could have been done on its part to prevent Lieutenant Ratliff's suicide.

However, I have always placed full responsibility for Ratliff's death on Scott Pullins.

And it all stems from his involvement in a misleading ad campaign opposing a $4-a-day tax on car rentals in Columbus, which was on the November 2002 ballot as Issue 18. The article from Business First spells it all out:

Anti-rental tax ads begin airing
October 23, 2002
by Tony Goins
Business First

The Ohio Taxpayers Association has unveiled television and radio ads to fight Issue 18, a car rental tax that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot in Columbus.

The association is spending $35,000 on radio ads and $60,000 on TV ads. A single ad has been created for each medium.

The ads urge taxpayers to vote down a $4-a-day tax on car rentals within the city of Columbus. Columbus City Council approved the tax in June, but the OTA and a consortium of car rental companies successfully fought to have the issue put on the ballot.

A "yes" vote for Issue 18 will approve the tax. A "no" vote will prevent it from being enacted.

The ads have a "hard-hitting anti-tax message," said OTA Chairman Scott Pullins.

In a press release, the pro-Issue 18 campaign, Citizens for Columbus Neighborhoods, called the ads "misleading."

"They obviously weren't concerned with reality when they wrote these commercials, because every statement is off base with the issue on the ballot," said campaign coordinator Todd Dieffenderfer in the release. "We are very interested in seeing how they are funding this attack campaign."

Pro-Issue 18 campaigners have already aired one TV ad in support of the tax and plan to air another, said campaign member Peggy McElroy, a longtime community activist. McElroy said tax supporters plan to distribute campaign literature and make door-to-door appeals to win voter support for the tax, designed to help the city of Columbus overcome a budget crunch.

The association's TV ads, which began airing Wednesday on WBNS-TV, the Pax television network and cable channels, will run 90 times on 32 Wide Open West channels, and 90 times on 22 stations on the Time Warner and Insight cable systems. The association targeted the cable networks voters are likely to watch, including CNN, A&E and the History Channel.

"If you watch anything on cable this week, you'll see it." Pullins said.

The association has also purchased seven days of advertising on local Clear Channel radio stations, Pullins said, including WTVN-AM and WNCI-FM and WMNI-AM.

The radio ad will air most often on WTVN, about 60 times over seven days.

----------

And as J. Caleb Mozzocco reported in Columbus Alive:

On paper, Issue 18 looked like a sure thing. The cash-strapped city could raise at least $6 million a year by taxing residents of other cities, who would be paying a new $4 a day tax on car rentals when they visited Columbus. It’s the kind of tax already paid by visitors to dozens of other big cities.

Who wouldn’t vote to raise some other poor schmuck’s taxes to keep your own taxes low and your city services intact?

Apparently, 62 percent of Columbus voters. The issue was crushed at the polls last week.

But why on earth would anyone in Columbus—other than maybe the rental car industry—cast a “no” vote? Behold the power of advertising.

Scott Pullins of the Ohio Taxpayers Association successfully led an ad campaign which all but bludgeoned voters into voting no on 18. You remember the ads—some of the most alarmist and vague of the campaign season. Really, they were almost funny.

Like the TV spot that said Issue 18 would cost local jobs and Columbus taxpayers $12 million a year, as choruses of “Vote no on Issue 18” splashed across the screen. Or the radio ads that call it “a painful new tax on hard-working Columbus residents” that “will not help pay for fire and police departments.” Or the fliers jammed under your windshield wipers, which prominently featured a photo of Mayor Michael Coleman next to the “Issue #18 is Opposed By” heading without explanation (Coleman was, of course, the strongest advocate of the tax).

None of the ads ever got around to explaining what the heck the issue was. It was clear it was evil, but the fact that it was a tax on rental cars—which, according to the city and the ballot language, exempted most local users—never came up.

Pullins is unapologetic about the ads, and why not? “It wasn’t up to me to run the mayor’s campaign for him,” he said. “The burden was on them.”

“Frankly, we didn’t have enough money to get into all [the details],” Pullins continued. But couldn’t they even have mentioned that the “new tax” was a car-rental tax? “We had to make it as simple as possible. We were on the ‘no’ side; our purpose was to defeat the issue. To explain the issue is up to the ‘yes’ side. Our job was to convince [the voters] to vote no.”

That they did, and Pullins calls the issue’s defeat “a huge victory for Columbus taxpayers.”

But at what price, Scott Pullins? The life of an Army veteran who served our country and was affected greatly by the war that he would end up killing himself after learning the promotion he was promised wasn't there any more--thanks to your misleading the voters of Columbus?

The fallout of the campaign is reflected in the report from the City of Columbus following Ratliff's suicide:
As a result of significant revenue shortfalls, a number of City Departments were required to submit revised projections for the FY2002 budget. These projections further reduced cuts already made in many program areas necessitating, in some cases, the elimination of programs in their entirety.

The factors considered by the Health Commissioner and her team in deciding where additional cuts would be made included:

1) Whether the services were required by law
2) Are they fully funded by a revenue source
3) Are there other providers of the service in the community
4) Is there a critical need in the community for the service
5) Is the service part of the department's core mission

Based on these factors, in January 2003, funding for the Enviromental Community Partnerships programs was eliminated. This resulted in the elimination of two full-time positions, a Program Manager II and a Health Education Program Planner.

In January of 2003, the employee encumbering the HEPP position in the eliminated program was moved to the HEPP position that Lt. Ratliff was to have filled.

And all of this took place while Lt. Ratliff was fighting in Afghanistan.

----------

Some bloggers may have names for Scott Pullins following the Strickland flap. But I feel facts go a lot further than simple name-calling.

Scott Pullins has a reputation for being litigious. Which is why it helps to have a journalism degree from Kent State, where I attended classes and worked on the Daily Kent Stater with Columbus Dispatch reporter Mark Ferenchik, who covered the Ratliff story.

However, unlike Mark, I am not a professional journalist. I am a private citizen, currently employed with the state's top law enforcement agency. Many of my co-workers with the Ohio Department of Public Safety have been on the front lines in the War on Terror, just like Lt. Ratliff. Scott Pullins, on the other hand, is a public figure interviewed frequently by the news media. Any legal maneuver he would try to silence me is only going to lead to his accelerated demise from Ohio politics.

But I am willing to stick my neck out on behalf of Brandon Ratliff's family and friends, as well as my fellow citizens in Columbus and statewide, to expedite Scott Pullins' fall from the political arena. Brandon is owed at least that much.

 
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