breaking news

Huber Heights man found dead in Springfield park: What we know now

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

Kettering approves $6.9 million police station project
Kettering approves $6.9 million police station project

City leaders voted to approve initial funding for a multi-million dollar plan to expand and renovate the Kettering Police Department. Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve $525,000 in initial funding to start a $6.9 million renovation to the existing police facility at the Kettering Government Center. MORE: Kettering seeks $6.9 million...
Huber Heights man found dead in Springfield park: What we know now
Huber Heights man found dead in Springfield park: What we know now

Springfield police are continuing their investigation after a body was found at a Springfield park Tuesday morning. Huber Heights police are also continuing an investigation into an incident hours before at the man’s home in that city. Cedric Holt Jr. was found dead at Virgil Mabra Park in Springfield. He is the father of one of two teenage boys...
West Chester will seek federal funds for bike trail. Here’s where trustees stand if that request is denied.
West Chester will seek federal funds for bike trail. Here’s where trustees stand if that request is denied.

Whether or not West Chester Twp. residents see a Smith Road bike path connector in the future will depend on whether the township is successful in its pursuit of federal grant money. MORE: West Chester veering off Miami 2 Miami trail connector Township trustees have voted 2 to 1 to send in a grant application to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council...
Local gamer bar Cardboard Crowns to shut down after 7 months
Local gamer bar Cardboard Crowns to shut down after 7 months

Gamer bar and cafe Cardboard Crowns, which opened last October near the Dayton Mall, will shut its doors after the close of business this Sunday, May 27. “This coming weekend will be our last weekend of operations. We are inviting everyone out for one last weekend of gaming,” founder Ben T. Adams said. “We will be running all...
7 tips for getting rid of debt in your 20s 
7 tips for getting rid of debt in your 20s 

Between tackling student loan debt, buying a house and a mountain of bills, the thought of paying off your debt can feel daunting in your 20s and 30s.  According to Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million borrowers with $1.3 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. So, how can you pay down your debt or avoid it altogether early...
More Stories