Ohio Supreme Court rules Republicans must answer questions, disclose info in redistricting lawsuits: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings

Discovery zone: The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Gov. Mike DeWine and other Republicans on the state’s redistricting commission must turn over records and submit to questioning under oath from plaintiffs in three lawsuit challenging the GOP’s new legislative district maps. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the ruling marks a defeat for Republican legislative leaders, who argued they didn’t have to provide any information to the plaintiffs.

Mommy track: Ohio Medicaid is going to extend postpartum coverage for women from the current 60 days to 12 months. Laura Hancock reports that by transitioning women to longer-term health care after the delivery of their babies, the state is attempting attempt to reduce the maternal mortality rate.

Sick list: While still high, Ohio’s rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents dropped for the second consecutive week. Hancock compiled a list of counties with the highest cases per 100,000 residents.

Thanks for the memories: In a newly released memoir of her years in ex-President Donald Trump’s White House, former press secretary Stephanie Grisham describes Trump’s fury during separate public relations crises that ensued when he trashed basketball great LeBron James on Twitter, and after he toured a Dayton hospital that was treating victims of a 2019 mass shooting, Sabrina Eaton writes. The book also describes her defunct romantic relationship with Northeast Ohio congressional candidate Max Miller as “abusive” and says Champaign County Republican congressman Jim Jordan was among a group of “Trump whisperers” that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows would regularly bring to the White House to either calm Trump or give him pick-me-ups.

Still backing Max: More than a dozen high-profile Republicans are co-hosting a fundraiser next Wednesday for Miller in suburban Washington, D.C. As Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott of the Washington Post report, one of the co-hosts, ex-Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, said she still plans to attend the event despite Grisham’s abuse allegations, saying Grisham’s book “was intended to hurt many good people.”

Death sentence upheld: The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of Lawrence County resident Arron Lawson, who murdered his cousin and three others after she ended an affair with him. But as Pelzer reports, a couple justices suggested that Lawson, who has bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, invoke the state’s new ban on executions of the severely mentally ill.

Death details: A clash between Ohio inmate Michael McDaniel and prison guards that led to McDaniel’s death started after he became upset when another inmate refused to loan him a book. As the Columbus Dispatch’s Laura Bischoff reports, other inmates told investigators that McDaniel’s yelling drew the attention of corrections officer Sarah Cline, leading to McDaniel and Cline trading insults and Cline and her partner removing him from his cell. McDaniel was then beaten by a group of officers, after which he died.

Software issue: Three Republican state lawmakers didn’t break campaign-finance law when they did not report software worth $3,000 provided to them by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, the Ohio Elections Commission ruled Thursday. As Bryce Buyakie of the Wooster Daily Record reports, most commission members voted to dismiss a complaint filed by two left-leaning groups against House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, state Rep. Scott Wiggam of Wooster, and state Sen. Robert McColley of Napoleon on the grounds that they didn’t accept or use the software.

On the road again: After a two-year break, the Ohio Supreme Court is planning to resume off-site oral arguments on Oct. 26-27 at the University of Akron’s student union, according to a court release. Starting in 1987, the state’s high court has held oral arguments around Ohio – usually at a high school – as a way to educate students and the public about the state’s judicial system. The hearings, which are open to the public, are scheduled to take place at the same time the University of Akron’s law school celebrates its 100th anniversary.

A bad trade? China U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from the Niles area, on Thursday invited U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to visit his district “to see firsthand how bad trade deals with China have harmed communities like mine in states like Ohio and across the country.” Ryan has expressed concern that the Biden administration’s China trade policy doesn’t go far enough to hold China accountable and to protect American jobs.

Gibbon$: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland businessman, tells David Skolnick of the Youngstown Vindicator that he’s put another $2.25 million of his own money into his campaign during the third quarter.

Those fossils at the statehouse: The Ohio Statehouse will offer a free fossil tour on Capitol Square from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday. Expert geologists will explore the limestone walls, stairs and columns that support the Statehouse. Visitors will discover fossils of ancient sea creatures. For more information, click here.

Buckeye Brain Tease

Q: Which Ohio counties are named after Native American tribes?

Email your response to capitolletter@cleveland.com. The first correct respondent will be mentioned in next week’s newsletter.

Thanks to everyone who answered last week’s question:

What was the last Ohio school to beat Ohio State University in football?

Answer: Oberlin College, whose team beat the Buckeyes 7-6 on Oct. 8, 1921 at Ohio Field in Columbus. Ohio State has since won 44 straight games against in-state opponents.

State Rep. Kyle Koehler, a Springfield Republican, submitted the first correct answer for the second straight week.


Friday 10/8: Ex-U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Saturday 10/9: Justin Barasky, 2018 campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown; Elizabeth Baumgartner, legislative aide to state Rep. Dick Stein; State Sen. Bill Reineke; Myron T. Herrick, Ohio’s 42nd governor (1854-1929)

Straight from the Source

“Unfortunately, there is no sign from the administration or the General Assembly that they will be giving the same opportunity to folks when they’re continuing to make their decisions about funding priorities.”

– Kelsey Bergfeld, of Advocates for Ohio’s Future, quoted by Robin Goist during a press conference Thursday from several groups urging state officials to get more public input when deciding how to spend Ohio’s share of federal stimulus money. During the conference, Bergfeld occasionally relayed questions to speakers that came from viewers via the webinar’s Q&A function.

Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. If you do not already subscribe, you can sign up here to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.

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