The Republican nominee for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat is being threatened with legal action by a Democratic super PAC for his decision to not answer requests for records from his state office.
On Thursday, American Bridge 21st Century sent notification to the general counsel of current Ohio Treasurer and Tea Party favorite Josh Mandel asking for records and resumes of those hired by Mandel since he took office in January 2011. That same material was provided to the Ohio Democratic Party in June following nine records requests.
American Bridge's request comes after a series of unanswered public records requests from Ohio Democrats to the treasurer's office and as Mandel is challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in a competitive race for the U.S. Senate.
The letter from American Bridge's attorneys, Ezra Reese and Emily Eisenberg, cites records requests the group sent to Mandel's office on June 19 and June 26 seeking the resumes, which were sent to the state Democratic Party on June 18. The letter notes that Mandel's office did not respond to either request, which said the super PAC would accept copies of the material sent to the state party.
Reese and Eisenberg said that state law requires a response within a "reasonable time period," though exactly what that means has not been defined by the state. They cited Ohio court rulings that said six days may be too long of a delay.
Reese and Eisenberg wrote:
Moreover, the State Treasurer is required to cooperate with a requester; your office has failed to comply with this legal mandate. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B); see also State ex rel. Morgan v. Strickland, 906 N.E.3d 600, 603 (Ohio 2009) ("R.C. 149.43 contemplates that the requester and the public-records custodian cooperate in fulfilling a request."). In the ten weeks that have elapsed, American Bridge has not received any response from you and your office has released no records in response to our request. This complete failure to act does not meet the spirit or the letter of your obligations under Ohio's Public Records Law.
The attorneys said if the treasurer's office does not respond within two weeks and start disclosing the material, the super PAC will pursue legal action against the office.
The letter is addressed to Mandel's general counsel, Seth Metcalf, who handles records requests. Metcalf is a college friend of Mandel's who ran Mandel's campaigns for student body president at Ohio State University.
The treasurer's office did not returns two messages left by The Huffington Post seeking comment.
This threat of legal action is the latest chapter is a more than year-long saga involving Mandel's hires and records requests.
When the office released the resumes in June to the state party, it was only after nine requests that spanned more than a year. The previous requests were either not answered, answered by the office saying it did not have the resumes, or answered with the release of the entire state payroll.
Ohio Democrats have also filed nine requests for Mandel's schedules and visitor logs and three requests for contracts he has granted since taking office, which have not been answered by Metcalf, according to state Democrats.
The Dayton Daily News has reported that Mandel gave state jobs to political associates and close friends, while The Huffington Post has reported that Mandel had to send his debt management director to a beginner's course on the subject.