Cronyism alive and well in Ohio
Political class freedom redistribution (Part 6)
According to his LinkedIn profile, former Greene County Prosecutor Bill Schenck began his law career in private practice with Mike DeWine, Thomas Rose, Greg Lockhart and Steve Haller. When this five-some first hooked up in the 70’s when they were in their 20’s who would have thought they would rise to such elite status in the political class? DeWine went on to be a U.S. Senator and Ohio Attorney General; Thomas Rose, a judge serving in one of 89 U.S. District Courts; and Greg Lockhart is a former U.S. Attorney (there are only 94 in the U.S.), and current Partner with Taft Stettinius & Hollister.(3) Compared to these three high-powered resumes Bill Schenck and Steve Haller may have fallen short of the high expectations reached by their former law partners. Of course that would be irrelevant if all along Haller and Schenck upheld the highest standards of the legal profession. In any case, Rose, Lockhart, Schenck and Haller would not be where they are today without Mike DeWine, their former private law partner who once sat on the powerful U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee holding in the palm of his hand the financial security of any Ohio lawyer aspiring to a career in government service, federal or otherwise. You may agree that of the four, Bill Schenck benefitted most from his personal and professional relationship with Mike DeWine. Here’s why:
- Bill Schenck succeeded Mike DeWine as Greene County Prosecutor, and held that position for nearly 26 years. He was followed by Steve Haller who took over in 2006. To be clear, Mike DeWine, Bill Schenck and Steve Haller passed through the revolving door from their private law practice, and in turn occupied the office of Greene County Prosecutor from 1976 until the present. You may agree that three close friends and political allies serving as Greene County’s chief law enforcement officer for that long is a recipe for disaster.
- When Mike DeWine made it to the U.S. Senate, he chose Bill Schenck’s former spouse Barbara as his State Director, one of the highest paid members of his staff. In her last years as Senator DeWine’s staffer the former Mrs. Schenck drew a 6-figure annual income and qualified for the same retirement plan as a U.S. Congressman. In 2007, two months after Senator DeWine left office, she received a $20,000 parting gift courtesy of citizen class taxpayers. (Source: www.Legistorm.com)
- Just as Mike DeWine engineered the appointment of former private law partner Greg Lockhart to U.S. Attorney, in 2006 he greased the skids for Bill Schenck for a position as Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Ohio.
- After Mike DeWine was elected Attorney General in 2010, he selected Bill Schenck as his Senior Advisor where Schenck played a major role in several high-profile cases including the Steubenville rape case and the case of a mentally ill 21-year-old inmate sexually exploited by prison guards in the Sandusky County jail.
Due process or cover-up?
Bill Schenck has also occupied center stage in at least three incidents since 2006 that could lead to the conclusion Ohio’s justice system lowered the bar for Mike DeWine’s former law partner. In 2006, just after he retired as Greene County Prosecutor, Schenck rolled a Greene County government vehicle that he was no longer authorized to drive (Story here). At the time and still today some speculate that the official story fell short of the actual events implying there may have been a cover-up orchestrated in part by Schenck’s and DeWine’s former law partner, Steve Haller. Then in November, 2013 Schenck was arrested for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI). In both these cases, after a “no contest” plea, the courts sent him walking with sentences way less than most others in the citizen class who committed similar infractions. In 2013, a few months before the OVI incident, Bill Schenck’s name surfaced as a potential perpetrator in a sexual harassment incident within DeWine’s office. In that investigation, Attorney General DeWine inappropriately demanded the name of a witness who was assured confidentiality. Kristine Cadek, DeWine’s Equal Opportunity Compliance Officer who was conducting the investigation at first resisted as she was concerned for possible retaliation, but provided the name of the witness on August 5, 2013 after DeWine asked the Franklin County Prosecutor to consider filing felony charges against Cadek. Three days later the investigation was concluded with no findings and without identifying the alleged accuser.(1)
Whether or not Schenck was the DeWine friend who emerged as a suspect in the sexual harassment case, there’s no question that Ohio’s legal machine made at least three extraordinary departures from due process in dealing with Bill Schenck’s dust-ups with the law. If nothing else, there is probable cause for an independent prosecutor to come in and reopen any cases where Steve Haller and Bill Schenck may have abused their personal and professional relationship with Mike DeWine for the benefit of themselves or others in the Ohio political class. Greene County Common Pleas Court Case 2009-CV-0305 would be a good place to start. It may be an unusual course of action for Governor Kasich to request that investigation, but considering the preponderance of evidence, it could be the right thing for the citizen class, and who knows, it may even clear Mike DeWine’s reputation once and for all so Attorney General DeWine and Governor Kasich can remove the baggage that could endanger future political ambitions.
- Alan Johnson, Dem rips DeWine’s handling of probe, Columbus Dispatch, August 12, 2014.
- www.sanduskyregister.com, DeWine crafts different narrative, August 5, 2014.
- Gregory G. Lockhart’s profile published at www.taftlaw.com.
- Jill Drury, Former Greene County prosecutor guilty of lesser charge in OVI case, WDTN, Feb 28, 2014.
- Interview with Bill Schenck, Nashville, Tennessee, August 22, 2002.