BEXLEY, Ohio — The Ohio Office of the Inspector General released a 48-page report blaming the Department of Public Services, particularly its appointed chief, for interfering with a planned drug bust at the Governor’s mansion, accusing DPS officials of lying about what happened and why.
DPS officials canceled the bust planned by the Ohio State Highway Patrol Jan. 10.
The bust was to take place outside the perimeter fence that surrounds the Governor’s mansion in Bexley, outside Columbus. DPS officials also made the unusual decision to order Patrol investigators to visit one of the people involved in the alleged drug deal and warn her that she would be arrested if she carried out the plot to drop contraband outside the fence.
The Inspector General’s report says “the primary reason given for canceling the conveyance operation – that it presented a danger to Governor Ted Strickland, his wife, Frances, their guests at a dinner party and troopers stationed at the Residence – was a pretext. Due primarily to obfuscation and false statements made by DPS officials, we may never know the precise reason for the decision, but it is clear that avoiding political embarrassment to the Governor was a key factor.”
The report concludes that DPS Director Cathy Collins-Taylor canceled the operation after she and the Governor’s security chief, Patrol Lt. Joseph Mannion “consulted extensively with the Counselor to the Governor, Kent Markus, and the Governor’s Chief of Staff, John Haseley.”
The Inspector General didn’t find evidence that Markus or Haseley ordered the cancellation of the operation.
The Inspector General’s office based its conclusions partially from e-mails, including one Collins-Taylor sent to her Chief of Staff two days before the planned bust, saying “embarrassment to the boss” had been expressed by Terry Collins, a fellow political appointee and Cabinet member who was the then-Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC).
Collins-Taylor told investigators that her comment referred to the Administration, not Governor Strickland but the report concludes that “these statements simply lack credibility.”
The Inspector General’s report equally blasts Patrol Superintendent Col. David Dicken, who has justified the cancellation of the operation saying it was a “gross violation of officer safety practices.”
The report calls that “equally lacking in credibility. Multiple law enforcement witnesses told us that everyday traffic stops present a greater risk to troopers than the proposed operation. Simply put, no witness who supported shutting down the operation could articulate a valid law enforcement or security concern for doing so.”
In response to the report, the Ohio Department of Public Safety released a statement from spokesperson Lindsay Komlanc: “The Department will carefully and thoroughly review the report and, working in coordination with the departments of Rehabilitation and Corrections and Administrative Services, take any appropriate action regarding the recommendations.”
Read the full report from the Ohio Office of the Inspector Genera
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