Ohio Republicans Spent More Than Half a Million Keeping Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Earl Off Ballot

Earl could have siphoned votes away from Republican Gov. John Kasich.


Charlie Earl/Facebook

Ohio Republicans spent more than half a million dollars on a successful bid to keep Libertarian Party gubernatorial* candidate Charlie Earl off the state ballot last year. 

The GOP initially balked at the accusation that they had engaged in any dirty dealings to thwart Earl's candidacy. Then, in a federal lawsuit filed by the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO), District Judge Michael H. Watson found that it was "obvious" that "operatives or supporters of the Ohio Republican Party" had indeed hired a "dupe" to bring about Earl's electoral demise.

Unfortunately, the dupe—Gregory Felsoci, an LPO member who filed a formal complaint with the secretary of state's office challenging signatures the party collected—did have a point, the judge decided: Earl's petition circulators had not disclosed that they were being paid by the LPO.

The LPO argued back that Ohio's petition-circulator rules are selectively enforced, and their enforcement here merely a matter of Earl's potential to siphon votes away from incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich. (Ohio Democrats, for their part, worked to get Earl on the ballot, ostensibly for this very reason.)  

A Republican consultant and Kasich appointee was found to be responsible for hiring the law firm that hired Felsoci to challenge Earl's petitions. And the man hired to oversee Earl's disqualification hearing also volunteered for Ohio's GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine, though he didn't disclose this at the time. Now, recently revealed court filings show how much the Ohio Republican Party spent in legal fees to successfully strangle Earl's candidacy: nearly $600,000.

"The additional spending was documented as part of the Libertarian party's lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted" which challenges his decision to disqualify Earl, notes The Columbus Dispatch

The GOP reported and previously disclosed payments toward the disqualification effort totaling $300,000. Records show that, by March, the bill had risen to $592,000.

The party paid Zeiger, Tigges & Little, a firm hired by a Republican consultant Terry Casey, who spearheaded the challenge.

Casey says he acted on his own. The party says Casey only sought its financial help after the fact.

People like to suggest that the reason Libertarian Party candidates have so little electoral success is because libertarianism is a philosophy that simply doesn't resonate with very many people. But all too frequently, libertarians are unable to even get on the ballot to begin with—not for a lack of supporters but owing to either direct meddling, as in this instance, or ballot-access rules deliberately designed to keep third parties at bay.

Before going the direct route, Ohio Republicans tried to thwart the LPO legislatively, passing a 2013 bill that would make it harder for non-Democrats or Republicans to gain ballot access. (Detractors dubbed it the "John Kasich Re-Election Protection Act.") It was signed into law by Gov. Kasich, but then temporarily blocked by a district court following a challenge from the LPO, the state Green and Constitution parties, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In March 2015, the court found its final decision, ruling that imposing the new ballot-access rules was indeed constitutional and would be allowed to stand.  that Ohio didn't violate the U.S. Constitution by imposing new ballot access rules on minor political parties in the midst of campaign signature collection. The LPO's challenge under the Ohio Constitution continues. 

* For reasons I cannot explain, I just kept typing "mayoral" every time I meant "gubernatorial" earlier this morning. Kasich, and Earl, were obviously running for governor. 

NEXT: Friday Funnies: Transportation Competition

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  1. Well you can't let these people on the ballot,their like the sith,they have plans within plans within plans.Do you want a great orphan army running roughshod over your state,huh?

    1. You either die a child, or you live long enough to become an orphan.

  2. If Earl wanted to be mayor so bad, he should have picked a party and gotten its establishment's support through promises and compromises.

    1. Like Rand Paul.

  3. It is stories like this that push me closer to the non-voting camp. I do think it is more productive to focus on education than the electoral process.

    1. Absolutely it is. But voting is fun too. Who doesn't like to stand outside on a cold November morning, surrounded by people bent on controlling various aspects of your personal life?

      1. If handled correctly, I think that election time could be a perfect time to start some educational campaign. People who are normally dead to the world at least become (slightly) more aware of issues. Holding up a sign that says "Nobody for President" or "Nobody for Governor" could prompt people to ask you questions and then you could hand them some libertarian pamphlets.

      2. Where do you people live that you have to line up to vote?

        Voting takes like 3 mins inside a school or church. Warm and quick.

        1. I live in Florida, it is warm, but NOT quick.

          1. In KY you walk in, wait behind maybe 1 or 2 people to sign book, get ballot, walk to booth, bubble in circles, put ballot in scanner.

            1 minute for off year elections, 5 mins tops for prez.

            Ive voted in 5 different precints and its always that way.

            1. I can walk to my precinct, vote, and be home in about 20 mins.

            2. I live in the land of retired people. Getting out their 1980's era Cadillac so that they can drive to the polls is exciting for them - so they do. The lines, especially during Presidential elections, are quite long - and slow.

              1. This. In the most-recent township election, we didn't have to wait in line, but the place was pretty well full. The last presidential election (and the one before, come to think of it), the line snaked out the township hall into the parking lot.

                It's all how big your precinct is, how many voting booths they have, and how many old people decide to toddle in and read the ballot for the first time while they're in the booth.

                1. Almanian, we even have early voting in Florida - you would think that a lot of people would vote early so they wouldn't have a huge line on Election Day - a lot of them still wait till Election Day and the line snakes. I have voted early but at the same time I am concerned that having these extra days increases the likelihood of both election fraud and voter fraud. But really, I am increasingly of the opinion that whole thing is a fraud anyway, so it doesn't matter. I am not sure I will vote this year. If I do it will probably be for whoever the LP nominates - unless they nominate Bob Barr again.

                  1. Absentee ballot? Mail it in, done.

                    1. "Absentee ballot? Mail it in, done."

                      Absentee ballots are not, and cannot be, anonymous in the same way that voting in a machine (supposedly) is. To prove a ballot is legitimate you must, on the ballot itself, say who you are?

                    2. Absentee ballots are not, and cannot be, anonymous in the same way that voting in a machine (supposedly) is.

                      I've never seen that as a problem. Other people may.

                  2. At least the voting process makes the fraudsters expend energy on rigging the vote that they would otherwise expend on even more annoying plans.

                    Seriously; the whole "I don't vote; it doesn't make any difference" attitude annoys me. Even if all you are doing is make them work a trifle harder, do what you can. These people aren't geniuses; they can be overconfident and see the "wrong" guy get elected. And in some areas the local government is relatively aboveboard.

                    But whatever the outcome, at least make 'em WORK for it.

                    1. "But whatever the outcome, at least make 'em WORK for it."

                      Civil disobedience would make them work even harder.

                    2. "Civil disobedience would make them work even harder."

                      I'm not completely sure that's true. The worst ones have the cops sewn up (see; Baltimore) and are quite prepared to have them bust heads. The Media won't cover that unless your skin is acceptably dark, or you are protesting in an approved cause.

                      It seems to me that rigging the vote takes more effort. Especially these days, when some rouge elements of the Loyal Opposition (read; Republicans) are going off the reservation and asking embarrassing questions about districts with voter turnouts over 100%.

        2. I vote at a church. For local elections the votes in the church at any given time are usually outnumbered by the volunteers. In fact, at the last local election I got there 45 minutes after the polls opened. There were 4 volunteers and I was the 6th person to vote. But that's only for local elections. For national elections everyone comes out of the woodwork for their social signaling. Then it takes about 30 minutes, most of which I spend outside listening to people talk about why they like candidate X because of BS partisan talking point Y.

          1. I vote at a church

            ZOMFG!!!111 this must be STOPPED! Separation of teh church and state - it's right there in the Constitution!11!1!111!11elevnty!!

            /Average Murkan

        3. Where do you people live that you have to line up to vote?

          In a ward that tends to reliably vote against the dominant party, causing them to be given too few voting machines as a way of discouraging turnout.

  4. Off Topic

    1. How can the article, itself be off topic?!

      1. What timing you have, guy.

        1. He's not your guy, buddy!

          1. He's not your buddy, pal!

          2. Timing, Homie

            (Protruding brows and a bit of racism for your Friday cartoon)

      2. Because it's not about Trump!

  5. I still think there are no downsides to the two-party system.

    1. I see the problem. You have the graph turned so the x and y axis are inverted.
      (Turns graph). There you go, all downsides.

    2. The only difference between the 2 major parties in the US is, one of them walks leftward, while the other runs leftward.

      When voting, you are voting only for the speed at which things will move leftward.

    3. There is if you're talking gay marriage. At least not the lesbian type.

  6. Wait a minute...According to all the trolls who comment here, libertarians are just a branch of the rethuglicans. So why all the scheming and dirty dealing by our so-called ideological "brothers" to keep us away? Is it possible that libertarians are completely different from either of the stupid, rigid, outdated, power-mad major parties? Maybe our trolls are just completely full of shit!

    1. You Libertarians think you're soooo crafty with your plots within plots within plots wasting half a million dollars attacking each other trying to fool everybody but your silly free market ideas don't fool us. No siree. You think we need a leader with medieval-era ideas running our lives? Well, go and tell your Koch master we don't, you see we've already got one!

      /Tiny the nth

    2. This is part of the conspiracy. We (and by that I mean Reason commenters) conspired with the Ohio GOP to do this to throw the trolls off the scent. And we would've gotten away with it if you hadn't spilled it. You're hereby fined 5 orphan slaves, who will be redistributed among the commentariat.

      1. Hah! I only have non-starving minority orphans in need of employment who have been redistributed to me by the Top Men (and women and mx-es!) of our benevolent guiding class.

        By taking you're actually giving.

        /Tiny the nth

    3. The evidence in the article (& not the 1st time) is that the LP is a tool of the Democrats vs. Republicans.

    4. So why all the scheming and dirty dealing by our so-called ideological "brothers" to keep us away? Is it possible that libertarians are completely different from either of the stupid, rigid, outdated, power-mad major parties?

      The way elections work, you try to eliminate your closest competition?those candidates who'd be most attractive to your own expected voters. Why do you think that in this & other elections, Republicans have tried to knock LP candidates off the ballot, & Democrats have tried to keep them on? It means that, at least according to those whose judgment of politics is a more successful nature, Libertarians are much closer to Republicans than to Democrats.

      Similarly, Republican campaigners will work to help Socialist, etc. candidates in an election where there's a Democrat nominated too. Did you think that made Republicans closer to Socialists than Democrats are?

      This is another reason the LP is a waste or worse. Unless you can cross-endorse, the main effect of a minor candidate is to help elect whichever major candidate is farther from the minor candidate's desires.

  7. No one needs more than two choices for political office anyway.

    1. When it's left vs right, are there really two choices?

      1. Well, in Flatland, where there is no third dimension, two robber gangs is about right.

    2. Especially with all the starving children out there....

    3. Phht! Two? Why do you need more than one? We all know that Hillary is entitled to the presidency. She may represent the past, but she is entitled nonetheless.

  8. Earl was running for governor, not mayor.

    1. Same thing - whatever


  9. OT,

    The Saudis are planning to intensify their proxy war with Iran before Iran gets any money from the deal. Who could have seen that coming? Richman? Anyone? Well quite a few in the comments of the Richman post actually:


    1. This is UNpossible!

      *pulls up yesterday's article to look for where I missed this contingency*

  10. Mr. Felsoci is a true libertarian, we eat our own.

    1. What's this "we" stuff, Kemosabe?

      /One Man

      1. Good point. There can be only one.

        1. Oh, nice given your moniker. Well played, Sir.

  11. I was just talking about Mike DeSWine in a thread last night. A woodchipper may or may not have been mentioned.

    1. It had to do with his efforts to derail pot legalization

      So this didn't surprise me at all.

  12. How much did they pay to keep alt-text off the pic?

  13. "Ohio Republicans Spent More Than Half a Million Keeping Libertarian Mayoral Candidate Charlie Earl Off Ballot."

    ...and untold millions to keep John Kasich on the ballot and in office.

  14. Here is a Rand Paul speech libertarians do not see bandied about.
    The subtitles are the work of Brazilian translators working to let their citizens understand the first-person speech of libertarians, communists, fiscal and even religious conservatives--and let the watcher decide on the merits of those ideas. This particular speech shows viewers that Paul is definitely a religious republican. Yet of all GOP candidates, he is the least obnoxious, and is working as an agent of change whereby the GOP is shedding the Prohibition Party as its dominant influence (for over a century). The LP is banned in Brazil as in Ohio, by looter judges using similar pretexts. Ideas can now flow across what was once an impenetrable banana-republican curtain.

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