John Kasich's Office Goes On Defense Over Reported Ouster Of Top Environmental Official

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Ohio state Rep. Debbie Phillips (D) is seeking public records regarding the resignation of a top environmental official who told staffers last week that the administration of Republican Gov. John Kasich had forced him out of office at the behest of coal interests in the state.

Phillips's letter, sent Thursday, requests correspondence between Kasich's office, the Ohio EPA and coal industry officials regarding George Elmaraghy, the head of the Division of Surface Water in the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, who announced his resignation on Aug. 19. Elmaraghy indicated in an email obtained by The Huffington Post that coal interests had put pressure on the governor's office to oust him in response to their complaints about the permitting process.

"To ensure that the public’s interests in safe drinking water, clean air, and good, honest government are the primary goals of this administration, a full account of the events surrounding the dismissal of Mr. Elmaraghy is necessary," Phillips wrote.

In response to a request for comment on the inquiry from the Columbus Dispatch, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols went after Phillips:

"You’d be hard-pressed to find a job creator that she hasn’t opposed, vilified or protested at some point," Nichols wrote in an emailed statement. “If she had her way, we’d all be living on a collective farm cooking organic quinoa over a dung fire. So, I think we’ll take her views in context."

Kasich's office did not respond to the paper's request for comment about the Elmaraghy situation.

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Filed by Kate Sheppard