What did they know and when did they know it? Moreover, why aren't they commenting on it?
“They,” in this case, are leaders of the Ohio Republican Party. And “it” is the drunken driving arrest of State Rep. Robert Mecklenborg (R-Green Township). In the 16 days since the April arrest became publicized through the media, the state GOP has been curiously silent about the matter.
Mecklenborg was arrested April 23 for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. An Indiana state trooper stopped him shortly before midnight in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and the lawmaker failed three field sobriety tests. Also, Mecklenborg — who is married and the father of three children — had a woman in his vehicle who some media outlets say works at Concepts Show Girls, a nearby strip club. Toxicology texts showed Mecklenborg had Viagra in his blood, according to police documents.
WLWT-TV (Channel 5) was the first media outlet to report the incident, on June 29.
The muted reaction is a far cry from what occurred in early June, when Ohio Republican leaders felt the need to weigh in on the texting controversy surrounding then-Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York), who sent photos of his penis to females through Twitter and the Internet.
Although Weiner hadn't committed a crime, Christopher Maloney, the Ohio Republican Party's communications director, issued an overheated public statement urging U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to call for Weiner's resignation.
"Talk is cheap. It's time for Sherrod Brown to walk the walk when it comes to draining Washington's 'ethical swamp'; it's time for him to join his fellow candidates for U.S. Senate, and Democratic Party peers, in calling for Anthony Weiner's resignation," Maloney said in the June 9 statement. "Sherrod Brown sits on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics. As long as Sen. Brown intends on continuing to incorporate ethics and good government into his 2012 campaign platform, he should join with his Democratic colleagues and provide Ohioans with an answer on whether Anthony Weiner should resign his seat in Congress."
Ironically, Mecklenborg — a self-styled “family values” conservative on social issues — is a member of the Ohio House's Judiciary and Ethics Committee.
CityBeat sent an email to Maloney and Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine, asking them why the party hasn't made an official statement about Mecklenborg's arrest. Specifically, the email asked whether the party thinks Mecklenborg should resign. Also, it asked if party leaders were aware of the arrest when it occurred in April. If not, it asks if Mecklenborg should've informed them. And if they were aware, the email asks why no public statement was issued at the time.
Neither Maloney nor DeWine have replied.
The first elected Republican to address the incident was House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina), just two days ago. He said Wednesday that Mecklenborg should resign from office.
A blood test given by police registered Mecklenborg's blood-alcohol content at 0.097 percent, above the 0.08 percent level at which a driver in Indiana or Ohio is considered drunk.
The political web site Plunderbund has said Mecklenborg's young companion that night, Tiona Roberts, works at Concepts Show Girls strip club on Arch Street, not far from the Hollywood Casino.
CityBeat contacted the club and a woman who identified herself as the business' bookkeeper wouldn't confirm Roberts' employment. Further, the woman said that the club's owner was declining comment about the incident or whether Mecklenborg is a regular customer.
On a web site featuring reviews of the club, one customer described Concepts as follows: “Dances were 10 dollars and I was definitely up for it. (Mandy) was outstanding for one way grinding. She moved in all kind of positions for the best grinding. The songs were long and I paid for six straight songs. Some of the best one way contact I have had.”
Since the news first broke, The Enquirer hasn't mentioned details of the incident or done any follow-up articles, unlike other daily newspapers across Ohio.
Some media critics have wondered if that's due to Mecklenborg's day job as an attorney at the powerful Dinsmore & Shohl law firm on East Fifth Street downtown.The law firm represents Procter & Gamble, among other large local corporations, and a managing partner is board chairman of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Although The Enquirer hasn't followed up on the incident officially, a person who posted on its “Moms Like Me” discussion board made an interesting allegation.
In a comment posted online at 11:07 p.m. July 2, someone using the screen name “Daynamariee1981” wrote: “I was employed at Concepts for five years while I was in college. Bob came into the club at least three times a week. He is extremely perverted and would offer almost every girl money for sex. I had no idea he was a State rep. I had no idea that he was married because his text messages were so dirty. I really think it should be up to the voters. He is great at his job, he is just a lousy husband.”
Of course, the allegation might be unfounded; still, most observers would think the region's daily newspaper of record would track down the user using its administrative access to the board and try to verify the information for an article.