Sunday, July 17, 2005


Recusal refusal - why isn't more being made of this

The Dispatch's Joe Hallett's recap of the various scandals serves to remind the Ohio GOP that their problems are not going to go away soon and that the stench from the scandals has spread - not just across Ohio - but the nation.

But Hallett correctly centers in on one of the most important issues that is now on the front burner: Why the hell haven 't justices on the Supreme Court recused themselves from the executive privilege controversy like they have done with the Coingate lawsuit?
Five of the GOP justices recused themselves from a lawsuit involving Noe because they had accepted a combined $23,500 in campaign contributions from Noe and his wife.

Those same justices took more campaign money from Taft — a combined $27,500 since 2002 — but have not removed themselves from a lawsuit filed by state Sen. Marc Dann, a Youngstown-area Democrat, seeking to compel Taft to turn over memos between his office and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Chris Davey, spokesman for the Supreme Court, said justices "balance their responsibilities to hear cases against the possibility they could be perceived as biased" on a case-by-case basis. He noted that Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer long has advocated selecting judges by merit, rather than election, to eliminate questions about campaign contributions.
We'll buy a beer for anyone who can explain what the hell Davey's statement means in this context, i.e., no one has recused themselves yet.

However, regardless of the ethical considerations of the court, the momentum of these scandals suggest that everyone who doesn't come clean gets sucked into it. In otherwords, Moyer is no political fool and one would think the justices would be running to get out of the way of this trainwreck, especially when there are others who will clearly take the fall.

Speaking of the Dispatch, it's editorial today seems to underline the point we are trying to make about the Ohio Supreme Court, and also gets at the heart of the fork in the road facing the Ohio GOP:
Millions of Ohioans have a stake in what happened and want the truth. The issue no longer is whether the governor, other top officials and the Ohio Republican Party will suffer political damage. The question is whether they will compound the harm by standing in the way of a full airing of what happened.

The investigation of this, the most far-reaching political scandal in the state’s modern history, has the momentum of a freight train and is beyond the power of anyone, including the governor, to manage, contain or control. The facts are going to come out whether the governor wins this court case or not. The only question is when.

What the governor can control is how he is perceived as the investigation plays out. He can be seen putting the public interest before his own and that of his party, seeking to get at the truth and set things right. Or he can be seen as yet another politician whose stonewalling cements the suspicion that he is hiding something or protecting someone.

In the aftermath, the public will see only two sides in this deplorable episode: those who were on the side of the cleanup and those who were on the side of the cover-up.


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