'Foley Problem' Plagues Ted Strickland

A “Foley problem” sexual scandal lies at the heart of Democrat Rep. Ted Strickland’s gubernatorial campaign in Ohio. The handling of the scandal reveals clearly the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party nationwide in the party’s enthusiasm to attack Republicans found guilty of sexual misconduct, while circling the wagons to excuse one of their own.

The scandal involves Strickland’s 1998 campaign manager. In 1994, the 21-year-old campaign manager was convicted in Athens, Ohio, for criminal misdemeanors involving exposing himself to minors. He evidently liked to drive himself to an elementary school playground, entice young under-age minor girls to his car, and open the door, whereupon he proceeded to expose himself and engage in masturbatory behavior.

At the end of the 1998 campaign, an anonymous source informed Strickland of these criminal offenses. Strickland now claims that he confronted his campaign manager and accepted the man’s denial at face value. The record now shows that Strickland was evidently also confronted at the same time with an arrest report from the Washington County Sheriff’s office alleging the same type of offense regarding the campaign manager.

Strickland claims he made no attempt to check with the Washington County Sheriff’s office or with any other police authorities in Ohio to see if police arrest records existed to validate whether the alleged sexual misconduct in the presence of minors was true. As a trained psychologist, Strickland should have known that employees confronted by misconduct charges are frequently embarrassed, scared and prone to lie. The charges in Washington County were dismissed and the record was sealed sometime in 2000. Still, the records were available in 1998, had Ted Strickland cared to check.

That Strickland did not discover the truth of these charges strains credibility to the point where critics, including this author, have charged that Strickland is probably still lying. An alternative explanation would be that Strickland realized the sexual misconduct charges against his campaign manager were most likely true. Perhaps Strickland excused the offenses or thought the offenses were insignificant. Maybe Strickland even had sympathy with the offender and his acts. We probably will never know the truth, especially if Strickland continues not to answer questions in a straight and honest manner.

These charges were raised against Strickland earlier this year by Brian Flannery, his Democratic Party challenger in the Ohio gubernatorial primary. The charges then did not stick, possibly because the name of the offender had been redacted in the documents that were then in circulation in Ohio.

About two weeks ago, an anonymous e-mailer under the name “Ohio Concerned Citizen” again circulated the police arrest reports from Athens, Ohio—this time with the name of the offender clearly legible. Although the campaign manager had evidently gotten the Athens, Ohio, police records expunged in 2002, Ohio Concerned Citizen had an original un-redacted set of these documents.

Besides, since the primary, enough details about the identity of the person involved were coming to light that by the time Ohio Concerned Citizen circulated the un-redacted arrest report, investigators in Ohio had independently identified and found the person involved. In light of a high-stakes gubernatorial race, the scandal could no longer stay suppressed as it had during the primary. This author found the 1998 campaign manager and substantiated the charges with him personally, as well as with his Ohio legal counsel.

We also learned that following his 1998 re-election to the House of Representatives, Strickland took his accused campaign manager on a private celebratory trip to Italy, while Mrs. Strickland was left at home. Moreover, filings with the Federal Election Commission document that Strickland in 1999 was reimbursed more than $9,000 for unexplained “travel expenses,” which critics, including this author, have charged could be reimbursement for the jaunt to Italy with his 1998 campaign manager. In 1999, the campaign manager in question remained on the Strickland congressional office as a special adviser, quitting finally of his own volition, not until sometime at the end of 1999 or the beginning of 2000.

Blackwell Sheds Light on Scandal

In the last televised debate with Strickland, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell repeated openly the charges that Strickland had been attempting to cover up the scandal, not revealing completely his role and involvement in not taking action against the employee in 1998, when the charges were first revealed.

Ohio’s newspapers, generally Democratic-leaning, lashed out against Blackwell, accusing him of gutter politics instead of expressing outrage at Strickland for covering up in the Democratic primary what by then he must have known was a major scandal in the brewing. Democratic Party supporters joined in the chorus, determined to circle the wagons around their candidate and not lose their lead in the polls.

Only a few short weeks earlier these same newspapers and Ohio Democratic Party leaders had expressed outrage over the e-mails of Rep. Mark Foley (R.-Fla.) and demanded the resignation of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.). Where was the demand from these same Ohio mainstream newspapers and Ohio Democratic Party leaders that Ted Strickland step down as their gubernatorial candidate until the scandal could be completely investigated? Why is it that we hear nothing of the Strickland sex scandals from national Democratic Party leaders?

Democrat Hypocrisy Over Mark Foley

Democratic Party outrage over Foley’s sexual misconduct was clearly nothing more than opportunism—a cold calculation to use an unfortunate incident involving a Republican for cheap and immediate electoral advantage. In their protection of candidate Strickland, the same Democratic Party leaders reveal that the party operates with no fundamental moral conviction, other than a desire to protect their own.

This is clearly a Democratic Party double-standard over sexual morals. What the Democratic Party stance amounts to is this: If the sexual scandal involves Republicans, then the Democratic Party attacks. But if the sexual scandal involves Democrats, the Democratic Party stonewalls. In Ohio, the Democratic Party has moved to protect its man, even though Strickland cover-up involves indisputable proven criminal sexual misconduct in the presence of minors, an arguably worse offense than merely writing salacious emails to underage pages.

Questionable Vote in U.S. House

Unfortunately for the Democratic Party in Ohio and for the Strickland campaign, the sexual scandal involving the gubernatorial candidate is expanding. Critics have also pointed to a 1999 House vote on a resolution (H. Con. Res. 107) designed to condemn an American Psychological Association study that purported to establish scientifically that sex with minor children could be good for the minor children. Instead of joining the bipartisan majority that voted 355-0 to condemn the resolution, Ted Strickland chose to be one of 13 congressmen voting “present.” One of the other 13 congressmen voting “present” was Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), an openly gay congressman.

Pressed to explain himself on the vote, Strickland asked permission to take the floor a few days after the vote. Here he presented a lame argument that he objected to the study because as an ex-minister he believed God’s grace could cure even a child who had been damaged by sexual abuse from adults. How the argument was relevant is yet hard to see. Truthfully, Strickland’s defense of himself should have dug him into a deeper hole. Was Strickland saying that adults having sex with children was OK because the grace of God could cure the children after the damage had been done?

Advancing the LGBT Agenda in Ohio

Then, critics have begun exposing the extent to which LGBT groups in Ohio (standing for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual”) have thrown their support behind Strickland. An Ohio PAC known as Equality Ohio Campaign Fund has endorsed and provided financial support to the Strickland campaign. Strickland, also a former prison counselor, has told groups in Ohio that he will appoint ex-convicts to positions of leadership and responsibility within the Ohio state government if he is elected. Now Strickland is also being asked whether he will reward groups such as Equality Ohio by appointing openly LGBT persons to positions of leadership and responsibility within the Ohio state government.

The Strickland sex scandals reveal clearly what a dangerous game the Democratic Party is currently playing with sexual politics. The Democratic Party in Ohio should stop blasting those of us who raise questions against Strickland as “gay-bashing hate-mongers.” Were the Democrats who vociferously opposed Mark Foley also “gay-bashing hate-mongers”? As much as the Democratic Party would like to have the issue both ways, American voters are beginning to see through the double-talk.

Will the Democratic Party ever come clean with the American people and admit openly that Democrats support a radically extreme sexual agenda that embraces fully even the most outrageous lifestyles? We doubt there is any hope, not as long as the instinct of the Democratic Party and their supporters in the mainstream media remain intent to support candidates like Ted Strickland even when the candidate refuses to answer legitimately raised questions about sexual scandals involving themselves.