COLUMBUS (WKBN) – More shocking allegations of bad behavior by lawmakers have been made, this time at a going away party for an Ohio House of Representatives staffer.
According to Third Rail Politics, a blog run by non-journalists, several lawmakers were participating in a roast of Mike Dittoe.
A roast is typically a lighthearted, sometimes off-color series of jokes aimed at a specific individual that occasionally borders being inappropriate. Usually, the target of a roast is being honored.
Spokesman for the Speaker of the House Brad Miller confirmed that the roast did happen, that alcohol was present and that several lawmakers, both male and female, participated.
He confirmed that one of those comments caused State Representative Candice Keller to seek legal counsel today. She was not present at the roast but was referenced as part of a joke, according to Miller.
State Representative Bill Seitz allegedly made a comment comparing former lawmaker Diana Fessler to Keller, according to the article which also claims that Seitz described Fessler as a nutjob who “wore a tin foil hat.”
Miller says Keller did meet with the speaker and legal counsel but has not yet filed a complaint. He says she is welcome to do so and if she does, it would be taken very seriously.
Keller was not the only woman disparaged at the party, according to the article. State Representative Marlene Anielski was also referenced, as was another unnamed female candidate requesting support.
State Senator Matt Huffman, the lawmaker behind the Republican congressional redistricting plan, was the emcee for the roast and allegedly described that female candidate as a real “C U Next Tuesday,” according to the article.
Miller would not confirm the specifics of what was said at the roast and said he was not present for the entirety of it, stating he was in and out. He also says that it will be on the individual lawmakers to respond to questions about their comments.
State Senator Cecil Thomas immediately released a statement after reading the article.
Speaking to us in his office, Thomas says he was shocked by what he was reading, especially after the mandatory sexual harassment training all lawmakers and staff were required to go through last week.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions but it does beg for further discussion to determine if this did in fact happen. Then, we have to take action to send the correct message,” Thomas said. “This is not going to be tolerated.”
Several lawmakers named in the article were not reachable for comment or have chosen to keep their comments to themselves at this time.