The Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO) has been grappling in court all year with Republican pals of Gov. John Kasich, and insists that the Ohio GOP is using unethical tactics to snuff them out. Their claim just earned some more credence.
The Associated Press (AP) reports on the latest revelation:
A Republican consultant and appointee of Gov. Kasich was responsible for hiring the law firm whose challenge pushed two [LPO] candidates off the statewide ballot.
Terry Casey worked for Kasich's 2010 campaign and the governor has since appointed him to the $70,000-a-year job chairing the state personnel review board.
Casey's role hiring Zeiger, Tigges & Little emerged in a case in which Libertarians are asking federal Judge Michael Watson to restore governor candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary to November's ballot.
In a new court filing, the [LPO] also says Bradley Smith, hired to oversee the disqualification hearing by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, didn't disclose he was working for Ohio's Republican attorney general, Mike DeWine, doing pro bono work at the time.
It was previously unknown who hired the Zeiger firm, and the Ohio GOP chairman swore under oath that his party played no role in Libertarian woes.
Some background is necessary: In March, Earl got enough signatures to run, but Husted had him disqualified on a technicality, because the person Earl hired to collect signatures failed to list the LPO as his employer. The would-be candidate took the case through the court system claiming that the signature collector's First Amendment rights, specifically his right to not declare his employer, were being denied by Husted, but the courts ruled against Earl, saying the burden on his rights were minimal.
In order to get the ball rolling on that disqualification, though, Husted needed a registered member of the LPO to challenge Earl's bid. Casey hired the Zeiger law firm, which convinced a local Libertarian named Gregory Felsoci to sign the challenge. Significantly, Judge Watson described Felsoci as a "guiless dupe" who "lacks even a basic understanding of the nature of the protest he agreed to sign." That's putting it lightly. Felsoci thought he was signing a petition to help Earl get on the ballot.
Judge Watson also acknowledged that the GOP or its affiliates orchestrated a plot against the LPO, and higher courts admit that this plot undermines the LPO's status as a "ballot-qualified party" and therefore could do "severe and irreparable harm" to it. To regain its status as ballot-qualified would require jumping through new, burdensome hoops thanks to a GOP-crafted law that recently took effect.
Casey brushed off the LPO's most recent complaint as a mere distraction from the third-party's own shortcomings, and then he pulled a quintessential '80s teen movie antagonist move: He "thanked Libertarians for the free publicity" because it'll help him find donors to pay Zeiger's legal fees, according to the AP.
None of the Republicans' meddling has any legal bearing on the fact that Earl did break the rules by not disclosing a signature collector's employment status, but is that one technicality anywhere near as anti-democratic or downright unetical as the fact that the GOP is squashing voters' alternative choices like this?