Who will guard the guards?
Bill Schenck, former Greene County Prosecutor recently embarrassed himself and his employer, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in a police cam video taken shortly before his arrest for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI). If you ask those who know Mr. Schenck, they will probably agree the former Assistant U.S. Attorney’s apparent problem with substance abuse has been around for a while. I met Mr. Schenck more than ten years ago when he invited me to appear on “Due Process,” a local access television program. It was just prior to the 2002 election when I opposed Dave Hobson in the Republican Primary. I was honored that he made that forum available to me considering Dave Hobson was his close friend and political ally. I specifically recall a spirited exchange on term limits, which of course he opposed…..and why wouldn’t he as he was elected seven times to the office of Greene County Prosecutor. But that came to an end in 2006 when Schenck passed through the revolving door from Greene County government to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Dayton. Schenck’s Bio page on DeWine’s Attorney General website reads “(During his five years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office) Bill prosecuted felons involved in organized crime.” In the coming weeks you will see that from 2003 to 2006, the last three years of his tenure as Greene County Prosecutor and precisely the duration of the BRAC Initiative Agreement, he may have let some “felons involved in organized crime” slip through his fingers. In any case, the transition from county prosecutor to Assistant U.S. Attorney wasn’t exactly uneventful.
In August 2006, Schenck was cited for flipping a Greene County staff car he was still using on August 19th, three days after his retirement after 25 years as the elected prosecutor. Our first question should be, “Why is an elected official with a six-figure income driving a vehicle paid for with our tax dollars.” However, you may agree that is just the tip of the iceberg. Why was he driving that vehicle three days after he left his job as Greene County Prosecutor? And what exactly transpired on August 19th, 2006? There are several inconsistencies that offer compelling evidence of a cover-up. According to an August 29th, 2006 article in the Dayton Daily News by Lawrence Budd:
- Schenck told Greene County Prosecutor Steve Haller, who replaced Bill Schenck, who replaced Mike DeWine that Schenck was on his way to Orlando where he was to speak on August 21st to the National Organization for Victims Assistance. It seems reasonable that Mr. Schenck would depart on August 19th to drive to an August 21st speaking engagement in Florida, however Prosecutor Haller said Schenck promised to return the car, cleaned and detailed by August 21st, the same day he allegedly spoke in Orlando.
- Schenck told Prosecutor Haller that he was President of the National Organization for Victims Assistance from 1991-1993. Mike DeWine’s Attorney General website states, “Throughout his public service (Schenck) has been an advocate for victims’ rights and served as President of the National Organization for Victim Assistance from 1993-1994.”
- Officials from Gene Fisher’s Greene County Sheriff’s office, said it was not investigating whether there was a misuse of county property because no complaint has been filed by the county commissioners.
- When asked if the County Commissioners filed a complaint, Commissioner Ralph Harper said commissioners expect Schenck or his insurance company to replace the car.
- County Administrator Howard Poston said the county was awaiting a damage estimate from the county’s insurance adjuster.
- Former Kettering Municipal Judge Larry Moore accepted Schenck’s no contest plea, found him guilty and fined Schenck $15, plus court costs, according to court records.
- Former Kettering Judge Larry Moore presided over the case for Fairborn Municipal Judge Catherine M. Barber, who apparently was excused due to a conflict of interest.
Any one of these seven observations taken by themselves could by chalked up to coincidence or an innocent reporting mistake by Greene County officials, but taken together with involvement by no less than eight members of the political class (Haller, Schenck, DeWine, Fisher, Harper, Poston, Moore, Barber) they paint a landscape that would be totally foreign to the way a member of the citizen class would be treated. Of course everyone makes mistakes but we all know the political class has its privileges, especially when one of their own gets caught breaking the laws they are entrusted to enforce. We’ll never know for sure what happened on August 19th, 2006, but hypothetically, what if it went way beyond the “official” story reported by eight politicians and unelected bureaucrats? And what if Bill Schenck walked away from that experience with the notion he, along with others in the political class were a special case when it came to accountability to due process and the rule of law. Is that the kind of public servant we want enforcing the law as an Assistant U.S. Attorney or Senior Advisor to the Ohio Attorney General?