Columbus elector Jonathan C. Beard today filed an elections Complaint seeking to end false campaign statements  being made by Columbus mayoral candidate Andrew Ginther and his surrogates.  My Complaint, filed with the Ohio Elections Commissions, alleges multiple violations of ORC 3517.21, which bars false statements to promote or oppose candidates in elections for public office.  I believe the state of Ohio has a compelling interest in enforcing honest political debate, and have asked for that result.

The state legislature has wisely decided that campaigns for elected office should be honest, as codified in Section 3517.21 of the Ohio Revised Code (Infiltration of campaign – false statements in campaign materials –election of candidate.  Unfortunately we are seeing from the Andrew Ginther campaign repeated lies to cover over his failures in his earlier public office, as through negligence, incompetence or complicity he failed to adequately protect Columbus school children and families.”  These failures are detailed in audit reports  by Columbus City Schools Internal  Auditor Carolyn Smith, State Auditor Dave Yost, and the reporting in an award-winning series on Columbus schools data scrubbing by Columbus Dispatch reporters Jennifer Smith Richards and Bill Bush.  The Complaint names Friends for Ginther, the Ohio Democratic Party and the Franklin County Democratic Party as being responsible for the false statements being made to voters.

“Adolf Hitler understood the value of propaganda to sway the masses.  In his book Mein Kamf he talked about the psychology behind what he called “the big lie” – a lie so big that it appears to have credibility because most people “would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods,” and because “it would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths  … they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously .. even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think there may be some other explanation.”  The Ginther campaign appears to be taking a page from that book by telling big lies that are easily disproved by the School Auditor and Auditor of State’s report – specifically that Ginther immediately initiated an investigation of whistlerblower allegations in 2004, that he continued the investigation even though school officials tried to end it, and that the investigation was still going forward when he left the school board in 2007. Those claims are patently false and must be stopped.

While it is o.k. for Mr. Ginther to state he believes he handled the whistleblower information and oversaw an investigation appropriately as he indicated on WOSU’s On the Record earlier this month (self-delusion is his right), under Ohio’s election law he does not have the right to fabricate a back story to sell to the public at election time to support his self-delusion.  The people of Columbus can be trusted with the truth.  Fortunately Ohio election law prohibits big lies and small lies to protect the public from misleading propaganda, and election lies can and should be challenged to prevent manipulation of the electorate.

I am used to seeing lies from council president Ginther as he performs in his current elected office, but Ohio law makes it clear that you can’t lie in an effort to get elected.    The people of Columbus deserve to be able to evaluate candidates’ records honestly presented, and Mr. Ginther has proven that he can’t be trusted to present his record fairly and then further uses his fabrications as a base to attack another candidate.

In addition to the Columbus City Schools big lie, Ginther also falsely asserts that Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-3rd) is his congresswoman, when in fact his voting address is in the 12th Congressional District and he is represented by Congressman Patrick Tiberi.   He also misrepresents the amount of time he has worked on Columbus’s infant mortality issue, saying it has been “several years” in a campaign video, while published reports point to his awakening to the issue as being in July of 2013 – which is less than two years from when he published the video.  These are false statements that he must be aware of, thus they are lies –lies seemingly made to try to bamboozle and build election-time support from Black Columbus.

Ginther also published a campaign video showing him standing in front of police substation for the 12th precinct – the same precinct where representatives of 22 neighborhood groups approved a letter to Council President Ginther chastising him for council’s inaction on a drug and gun violence issue (indeed, we posted a video rebuttal to Ginther’s public rebuke of the neighborhood organizations, showing a  number of shootings, including video of a homicide in the middle of the street we had been unsuccessfully seeking council’s help to clean up).  While the last is likely not an election law issue, it demonstrates clearly Ginther’s propensity to audaciously paint himself in the most favorable light – one that does not necessarily reflect the reality of informed citizens’ views.

I am disappointed that I have to file this complaint in an effort to stop Mr. Ginther’s election lies, but my family and tens of thousands of others over the past eight years (and untold more yet to come who will suffer from the school levy fatigue caused by Ginther’s data scrubbing failures including his unwise promotion of Issue 50 tax hike while the schools were embedded in scandal) have been harmed by Mr. Ginther’s past actions as an elected official on the school board, and believe strongly that Ginther’s record must be honestly discussed without allowing false political spin by himself and his surrogates – paid for by Columbus’s corporate community and the Democratic party of which I am a member -- to promote his candidacy for Mayor of the good people of the City of Columbus.

The facts are the facts, and let the chips fall where they may.  Andrew Ginther knows those facts as detailed by the Auditor of State’s comprehensive investigation of data scrubbing at Columbus City Schools, but as citizens are showing this is an election and not a coronation, Ginther is choosing to distort the facts to enhance his campaign for Mayor, and I believe that distortion is against the law.  Citizens deserve better from our elections and today I respectfully seek the support from the Ohio Elections Commission in asking the commission to review the record and then enforce Ohio’s election law.  I am hopeful the expedited review for this type of complaint can be completed prior to the primary election, so citizens are not bombarded with more false claims paid for by the donors to Friends for Ginther and I encourage people with similar concerns to voice them to those donors and the Ohio Elections Commission.

The complaint has been uploaded to: