Castro, Heimlich and CCV
Like Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal the convoluted smoke and mirrors behind the Wizard of Oz, recent revelations and events are shining a new light on the connections between Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich’s re-election campaign, the push to build a new jail and the role of arch-conservative groups such as Citizens for Community Values (CCV).
In a strange turn of events, Heimlich, Prosecutor Joe Deters and the county Republican Party refuse to divulge who paid for automated calls featuring a recorded message by Deters that urge residents to attend public hearings on “Heimlich’s plan to build a new jail.” (Hear a sample call here.)
All Deters will reveal is that he was asked to make the call by Mike McNamara, Heimlich’s campaign manager.
Sharonville lawyer David Langdon arranged the calls on Heimlich’s behalf, but won’t elaborate further. Langdon is a conservative activist affiliated with both CCV and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST).
CCV and COAST are both Heimlich backers, and COAST has vowed not to oppose the quarter-cent sales tax hike sought by Heimlich to pay for a new jail.
David Pepper, the Democrat challenging Heimlich in this fall’s election, believes the “robo-call” arrangement likely violated Ohio election law. The law states that no “person or entity shall conduct a telephone bank for the purpose of promoting the nomination, election, or defeat of a candidate or the adoption or defeat of an issue or to influence the voters in an election, unless the call includes a disclaimer that identifies the name of the candidate, campaign committee, legislative campaign fund, political party, political action committee, limited political action committee or other person or entity paying for the telephone bank.” The Deters calls didn’t include the disclaimer.
At the same time, CCV dropped its plan this week to seek a voter referendum on overturning a Cincinnati law that provides protection for gay, bisexual and transgendered people in housing and employment matters. More than 1,300 of the 7,656 signatures collected by a CCV-related group were facing a legal challenge, and CCV leaders admitted many of them were forgeries.
CCV President Phil Burress blamed the deception on a single petitioner who gathered most of the signatures. Among the signatures: ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Gregory Korte. Korte has said he never signed a petition; Castro couldn’t be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Heimlich said in an Aug. 15 article in The Pulse-Journal, a newspaper serving Warren County, that Hamilton County commissioners already have approved plans to build a $225 million, 1,800-bed jail near the existing lockup in downtown Cincinnati, which isn’t true. Commissioners are mulling their options, and Heimlich doesn’t yet have a needed second vote. The jail cannot be built next to the current Justice Center, officials said, and they are trying to reduce the price.
Moreover, Heimlich is quoted as saying, “Warren County has a pressing need for space, and it may be possible when our jail is complete that, if we have available space, they may be interested in leasing space from us.” That prompted critics of Heimlich’s sales tax proposal to question whether the proposed facility would be overbuilt to provide additional revenue for Hamilton County.
— Kevin Osborne