DEVELOPING:

Fatal shooting investigation underway in Springfield

Fallout continues over GOP lawmakers’ remarks at roast

‘We take all of these issues very seriously,’ Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said.


Ohio lawmakers are continuing to react to off-color, offensive remarks made by two Republicans – state Sen. Matt Huffman and state Rep. Bill Seitz — at a staffer’s going-away roast at a private club in downtown Columbus last week.

“We take all of these issues very seriously,” Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, said Wednesday in response to media questions about whether the apologies were sufficient. “At this juncture, I think (state Rep. Bill) Seitz has made his apology that he put forward.”

Rosenberger did not say whether Seitz, R-Cincinnati, would face discipline from Republicans in the House. Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said consequences for Huffman, R-Lima, are under review.

Media reports indicate that Seitz and Huffman made demeaning comments toward current and former female lawmakers, including Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown. Witnesses said Seitz joked during the dinner that Keller and former Rep. Diana Fessler wore tin foil hats, a phrase is used mostly to disparage people who harbor conspiracy theories.

Related: Bill Seitz apologizes for comments that left fellow lawmaker livid

State Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, told this newspaper she walked out of the party as soon as she figured out what Seitz was saying. She called the remarks disrespectful.

Keller, who was not at the event, said in an interview: “Apparently, the present culture of racism and sexual assault in our culture has not changed the conversation enough, even in Ohio’s legislature. I would encourage my colleagues to act respectfully of women and to guard their mouths. Women are involved in the public sector permanently. I suggest that those who would insult us in an inappropriate manner to clam up and get used to the idea.”

Seitz late Wednesday denied he said anything disparaging about Keller who, he said, “relied on an inaccurate blog post.”

He acknowledges making a remark about Fessler, but he said she later sent him a note saying she took no offense.

Seitz said he fractured his fibula when he missed a step on a crowded spiral staircase. Staff at the Athletic Club of Columbus called an ambulance to take him to Grant Medical Center where he underwent surgery.

He denied that he had too much to drink that evening.

RELATED: Keller livid over comments made at roast

Asked Wednesday about the roast, Rosenberger, who was there, said, “Look, I was not comfortable with the situation and I was uncomfortable with several of the remarks.”

In his letter to Seitz, Rosenberger wrote: “I am disheartened by the careless and insensitive remarks you made ….[Y]our remarks were irresponsible and not appropriate as a representative, and more importantly, as a member of my leadership team.”

Seitz said he believes his apology should end the matter.

RELATED: More in power stand accused as #MeToo movement grows

The roast was for Mike Dittoe, who is leaving his job as Chief of Staff for Ohio House Republicans. Huffman, who was the emcee, also apologized after his remarks were publicized in the online blog Third Rail Politics.

“I understand why people at the event were offended, and I apologize,” Huffman said. “I am truly sorry.”

House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, said the incident reflects “tone-deafness” in the wake of the Me Too movement and sexual harassment training mandated for lawmakers following other recent incidents.

State Rep. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, issued a statement that said in part: “Elected officials, Democratic and Republican, who were sitting in the crowd that night should come forward and demand better, but sadly most of them won’t in an effort to protect the establishment men entrenched in positions of political power across our state.”

Gov. John Kasich said he didn’t know enough about the incident to offer comment.

Staff Writer Michael Pitman contributed to this report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Fatal shooting investigation underway in Springfield
Fatal shooting investigation underway in Springfield

Springfield police said a man who died in a Springfield shooting early Monday morning was shot and killed while he was in his car. Springfield police are investigating a fatal shooting on South Yellow Springs Street. The coroner is on scene. Police have a crime scene taped off on South Yellow Springs Street in Springfield. The scene is reportedly between...
Urbana chief: Level of violence ‘troubling’ in city
Urbana chief: Level of violence ‘troubling’ in city

Champaign County had some high profile cases last year — including a school shooting and a teen murder suspect who’s claimed multiple personalities — but overall violent crime rates remained largely flat. Urbana Police Chief Matt Lingrell said he’s concerned about the amount of crime in the city, even though the statistics don&rsquo...
So you wanna be a figure skater? Start your Olympic dreams here
So you wanna be a figure skater? Start your Olympic dreams here

Hagerstown, Tokyo, Beavercreek – as long as there was an ice rink nearby, it was home sweet home for Cindi Sonntag. “Physically, it’s helped me build muscle – core muscle and leg muscle – but it’s more than that,” Sonntag said. “When I skate, I feel joy.” With the Olympics underway, the grace and...
What’s next for documentary about famous Dayton band?
What’s next for documentary about famous Dayton band?

In 2017, former Daytonian Eric Mahoney started work on his passion project, a documentary on Brainiac. The film explores the beloved Dayton band’s short but powerful career, which was derailed with frontman Tim Taylor’s death in a car accident in May 1997. Mahoney is financing the documentary himself along with support from crowdfunding...
Artists hope exhibit prompts the question, ‘What can I do?’
Artists hope exhibit prompts the question, ‘What can I do?’

Finding a way to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. using the voice of Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar was a challenge local artists took on for the 2018 Visual Voices art exhibit. “The Preacher, The Poet, The Vision,” on display in the Wintergarden of Dayton’s Schuster Center, was designed to mark the anniversary...
More Stories