Attorney general candidate files criminal complaint against Ohio GOP redistricting commissioners
State Rep. Jeff Crossman, the Ohio Democratic nominee for Attorney General in 2022. Photo from Ohio House.
Democratic state Rep. Jeff Crossman announced Thursday his filing of a criminal complaint asking the Ohio State Highway Patrol to investigate Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission for dereliction of duty.
Crossman, the Democratic nominee for attorney general this November, said the GOP commissioners had “recklessly failed to perform a duty expressly imposed by law with respect to the public servant’s office” and alleged “interference with civil rights.”
The language of his allegation is reflective of Ohio Revised Code Section 2921.44, dereliction of duty, subsection (E).
“No one is above the law and Republicans shouldn’t get to intentionally break the law and charge us taxpayers an extra $25 million for an extra election we wouldn’t have needed if they did their jobs,” Crossman said in a statement. “If it’s found that they broke the law and failed to follow the Constitution, I’m asking for real accountability.”
Named in Crossman’s complaint are Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Auditor Keith Faber, Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp.
On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court for the fifth time rejected Ohio Statehouse district maps passed along partisan lines by Republican members of the commission. This was the court’s second rejection of “Map 3,” which the commissioners originally passed in February but were rejected as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders by the court in March.
In between their original adoption by the commission and the court’s first rejection of them as unconstitutional, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered boards of elections to load the maps into their systems and prepare to use them.
Republicans on the redistricting commission used the fact that elections officials were already ordered to use the maps as part of their decision to pass the maps a second time.
In their latest rejection of that maps, the bipartisan majority on the state’s highest court noted that they had ordered the commission to adopt entirely new maps.
“Neither the current election deadlines, the General Assembly’s inability or unwillingness to alter those deadlines, nor the question whether the map would be a viable option for use in the 2022 election cycle prevented the commission from adopting a new, constitutional district plan,” they wrote.
In a separate, concurring opinion, Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor indicated that in her view the Republican commissioners were putting partisan politics over the Ohio Constitution and that they had thus not fulfilled their oaths of office.
O’Connor referenced a recent Columbus Dispatch profile of Senate President Matt Huffman and wrote, “The Republican dominance of the General Assembly gave rise to a telling boast by President of the Senate Matt Huffman: ‘We can kind of do what we want.’ Do what we want apparently translates into the Republican-majority members of the redistricting commission ignoring rulings of this state’s highest court and the mandates of Ohio’s Constitution.
“Americans’ belief that no one is above the law — no individual, no organization, no political party — is a bedrock of our nation’s legal system, and one which makes it the envy of many other countries,” O’Connor continued. “In light of this court’s limited role in the redistricting process, setting aside differences and working together is the responsibility of the commission members in upholding their oaths of office as elected officials — oaths that are taken not to ensure that one political party has a supermajority but to obey Ohio’s Constitution.”
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