COLUMBUS, Ohio - Reporters and news outlets denied access to the Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee (ORP SCC) meeting Friday have one thing in common—they are investigating and reporting on a number of claims waged against the ORP.
The Ohio Press Network (OPN) reported that ORP Chairman Bob Paduchik denied OPN access to the SCC meeting Friday while falsely labeling OPN as “fake news.”
Fellow news outlet The Ohio Star was also refused entry to the meeting where members endorsed beleaguered Gov. Mike DeWine as part of a slate with four other executive statewide candidates.
The Ohio Star had the same Trump-like label slapped on it by Paduchik when he denied press credentials to its national political correspondent Neill McCabe—“Your request for credentials to attend the meeting as a journalist have been denied because The Ohio Star is fake news and you’re not a journalist.”
McCabe, a Washington-based political reporter who writes for Breitbart News, was a One America News D.C. bureau chief, a senior reporter at Human Events and a staff reporter at The Pilot, Boston's Catholic paper. He also was the editor of The Somerville News and The Alewife and served as an Army combat historian in Iraq.
In addition to OPN and The Ohio Star, Paduchik denied entry Friday to Duane Pohlman, chief investigative reporter and anchor at Sinclair Broadcast Group. Pohlman is co-founder and president of the Ohio Center for Journalism (Eye on Ohio) and serves as national chair of the Professional Standards and Ethics Committee at the Society of Professional Journalists.
Pohlman was named Best Reporter in Ohio nine times and Best Reporter/Journalist of the Year 15 times in a total of five states. He has more than 300 honors and awards over a 35-year career, including an Emmy.
In early February, Pohlman investigated allegations brought to light by SCC members Mark Bainbridge and Laura Rosenberger, among others, that $3 million of ORP funds have been materially misstated on its financial statements. Sinclair Broadcast Group aired a segment about the allegations on Local 12 in Cincinnati.
Bainbridge, Rosenberger, and reform-minded SCC members started asking questions of Paduchik, ORP Treasurer Dave Johnson, SCC members and employees of the state GOP. After documents on the matter were leaked to the press, Bainbridge, Rosenberger, Joe Miller, Denise Verdi and JoAnn Campbell were kicked out of their ORP SCC subcommittee positions, which the five claim was retaliatory.
Afterwards, all five joined a lawsuit against Paduchik and Johnson seeking to restrain the chairman from removing them from their subcommittees and to win a court-ordered forensic audit going back to 2017 (when current U.S. Senate candidate Jane Timken was chairwoman).
Despite ORP’s temperamental treatment of select members of the press who are looking deeper into goings on surrounding the state party, little was reported by members of the Ohio press about outlets and reporters being shut out of Friday’s meeting.
Conversely, members of the Ohio Statehouse press corps pushed back when Gov. DeWine collected questions before a press conference earlier this year, claiming that doing so may have thwarted the freedom of the press—one calling it “unacceptable.” Several times while former-President Donald Trump criticized members of the White House Press Corps and badmouthed mainstream media outlets, Ohio reporters objected.
Unacceptable, @GovMikeDeWine. https://t.co/0jiqp9PGVZ— Randy Ludlow (@RandyLudlow) December 17, 2021
In a story describing the Friday ORP meeting, one outlet falsely stated that conservative media and members of the public were barred due to disruptions in previous meetings. Members of the public, according to an email from ORP Executive Director Justin Bis, were barred from this meeting due to disruptions in the December 2021 meeting. News outlets had zero to do with the disruptions that led Friday’s restricted capacity, as the newspaper initially reported.
OPN contacted the outlet to correct the report, which was changed to state that members of the public weren’t welcome to the meeting due to previous disruptions. However, the outlet went on to report that “The party also denied press credentials to at least two conservative media outlets.”
Using the word “conservative” to dismissively describe the attempted silence of media does not rise to meet the code among journalists to defend each other, nor is it accurate to refer to Sinclair Broadcast Co. and Duane Pohlman as conservative. In fact, in an internal communication shared among the ORP’s 66 SCC members, and obtained by OPN, Pohlman was called a “liberal” bent on destroying the Republican Party.
ORP bylaws, the rules of conduct for the ORP, state in Article 5, Section 3 that unless the committee goes into executive session, “All meetings of the Committee shall be open to the public and press.”
OPN contacted ORP Communications Director Daniel Lusheck for comment, but he did not respond.
Dicke seems to be involved with this although not part of it.
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