Battle Brewing in the Ohio GOP


The time-honored tradition of Republican-on-Republican fighting is taking place in Ohio. Bryan Williams, the chair of the Summit County Republican Party is challenging Bob Paduchik (current chairman of the Ohio GOP, and senior advisor to former President Trump’s 2020 campaign). Williams wants to force the Ohio GOP to hold a vote on leadership. This usually happens in January.

Some members of the Ohio GOP are concerned about Williams’ candidacy. Committee members were sent an anonymous email outlining alleged scandals surrounding Williams. According to the email, Williams was allegedly involved in the corruption scandal surrounding Larry Householder (ex-Ohio Speaker), who was indicted. Although the email is too lengthy to post, here is a sampling of anonymous communications that committee members received. This is directly taken from the email. This is where you will find bold letters and underlines.

[A state senator] “question Williams’ involvement with a political operator (with ties and FirstEnergy contributions) who has pleaded guilty to the $61 million corruption scandal that involved a legislative bailout of Akron’s former nuclear power stations in northern Ohio.”

State Senator Nickie Antonio wrote to the Senate leadership: “It is my understanding,” he stated, “It was confirmed by the Columbus Dispatch reporting and records on file with Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, that Mr. Williams had been a principal of record in Jeff Longstrethat Ohio Leadership Council, a political non-profit engaged in the sourcing and grooming candidates for office. As you know, Mr. Longstreth pleaded guilty recently to federal racketeering allegations in connection to the ongoing House Bill 6 federal corruption investigation. In that case, Mr. Longstreth pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges as the corporate representative for Generation Now. Summit County Republicans raised questions last year about the nature and character of Mr. Williams’s political relationship with Mr. Longstreth.

The Beacon Journal has been informed by local Republican candidates that Bryan Williams, Summit County GOP boss, told them they had no choice but to hand their campaigns over at Longstreth. [Akron Beacon Journal, 7/30/20]

Dexter Vaughan, 37th House District candidate, claimed that he was contacted by the executive director of Summit County Republican Party a year prior to the primary. Bryan Williams, the local GOP chair, did not return a call seeking comment. He wanted to meet Jeffrey Longstreth at the party headquarters on Tuesday, and that Jeffrey Longstreth was also there. [Akron Beacon Journal, 7/21/20]

The case is not only connected to the [Akron] headquarters, but also to Summit County. According to campaign finance reports, the money involved in the case was used to support candidates or run attack ads against their opponents. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, $71,000 was transferred from Summit County Republican Party Central Committee in 2017 and 2018, when the alleged scheme took place. [Akron Beacon Journal, 7/30/20]

The email contains a number of other allegations, including issues with conduct and alleged “shady deals” and other concerns. In the email, Williams was also mentioned as having a losing record in his role as Chair of the Summit County GOP.

David Johnson, head of Columbiana County GOP shared with committee members an alleged memorandum between Jim Renacci (the former GOP gubernatorial hopeful) and Williams. According to this email, Renacci would act as the “titular head,” of the Ohio GOP and get paid for it. This could lead to serious conflicts-of-interest concerns.

I’m not here to say guilt or innocence to anyone. I don’t have any firsthand knowledge about the allegations. Ohio Republicans might want to ask themselves whether it is wise to engage with the circular firing squad, given the midterms are just around the corner.

Darvio Morrow, CEO of Ohio’s FCB Radio Network, is cohost of The Outlaws Radio Show.