Ohio Democrats Press Lt. Governor Taylor For More Answers About Staff

Published: .
Updated: .

Just a day before former President Bill Clinton arrives in Columbus to raise money for Ohio Democrats, party leaders believe unanswered questions from Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor about staffing issues could force the Kasich campaign to play a little defense.

"We're going to find out whether Mary Taylor knew why they didn't come to work, where she is, and hold her accountable," said Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern.  "And, we'll hold those who steal money from the state accountable."

Democrats say Ed FitzGerald had to answer months of questions last fall after his first pick for Lt. Governor, state senator Eric Kearney, was removed from the ticket after it was learned he owed about a million dollars in back taxes.

Now, they say it's only fair to ask Taylor why she didn't know what her staff was doing on taxpayer time.

"If she can't supervise her own staff, then why is she one heartbeat away from being governor of Ohio?," said Sharen Neuhardt, who replaced Kearney on FitzGerald's ticket.

Late last week, Taylor's chief of staff Laura Horowitz Johnson and another aide, Heather Brandt, abruptly resigned.

Brandt wrote in her resignation letter that she was leaving a "unhealthy hostile work environment."

Taylor says she's referred their work records to the Inspector General and State Highway Patrol.

Democrats have, however, backed off an earlier claim that both Johnson and Brandt were working on the Kasich reelection campaign.

"The allegation was not that people weren't showing up for work, and that's never acceptable, but it's much more serious if they're not showing up because they're working on the Kasich campaign," said FitzGerald last Saturday.

Taylor's spokesman Chris Brock responded, "These allegations are completely baseless."

Still, the two former Taylor aides are not talking, leaving unanswered questions, and an opportunity for Democrats to attack.

"Mary Taylor has proven herself to be a public official unwilling to work," said Redfern.

Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges on Thursday called on FitzGerald to release his own time records in Cuyahoga County.

"Ed FitzGerald is hiding something by refusing to turn over public records to the taxpayers and the media," said Borges.  "Today we announced the formation of our Truth and Accountability Fund and our intention to sue his administration and force him to release the public records that he is keeping secret."

FitzGerald's camp says they won't release the records due to security concerns.