Cleveland-born nominee bows out: President Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew from consideration after reports of physical abuse surfaced in old divorce documents, cleveland.com reporter Stephen Koff writes.
“Puzder, a Cleveland-born fast-food executive, already was in for tough questioning at a Senate committee hearing scheduled for Thursday. He opposed a higher mandatory minimum wage. He had an ardent anti-regulation posture,” Koff writes. “But then came the alleged personal baggage, including a claim of domestic violence that once made its way onto Oprah Winfrey’s TV show – and the video of the show that got out Wednesday. Puzder’s ex-wife renounced statements she made at the time, chalking them up to the anger of divorce, but divorce records released late Tuesday gave fresh oxygen to an especially embarrassing and controversial episode.”
“Puzder already faced questions over an undocumented household worker and taxes he failed to pay when due. With all the questions combining, he lost support from several Republican senators, too, almost certainly dooming his confirmation,” Koff writes.
Portman backs Trump’s Supreme Court pick: Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, said on Wednesday he will support Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Koff writes.
“Judge Gorsuch has an outstanding record as a fair-minded, independent and universally-respected judge, and, after today’s meeting, I join others in offering him my support,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has already said he will not support Gorsuch.
“The people of Ohio deserve Supreme Court Justices who will defend the rights of working families over Wall Street and corporate special interests – and Judge Gorsuch’s record doesn’t pass that test,” Brown, a Democrat, said after Trump announced the nomination. “The Supreme Court has enormous influence over the lives of everyday Ohioans, and any nominee must be willing to defend their rights to make their own healthcare decisions, collectively bargain for safe workplaces and fair pay, and to be protected from discrimination and Wall Street greed.”
Reps. Marcia Fudge, Tim Ryan throw support behind DNC chairman contender: Jaime Harrison, the South Carolina Democratic Party chairman, is among seven Democrats vying for the top party position, cleveland.com reporter Sabrina Eaton writes.
“The others are former Labor Secretary Tom Perez; U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota; television commentator Jehmu Greene; New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party,” Eaton writes.
“Fudge said Democrats lost the last presidential election because they conceded important constituencies like the South, moderates and independents,” Eaton writes.
“Jaime is not going to concede any ground,” Fudge said.
“Ryan said Harrison could help reconnect the party to its working class roots. He said the South Carolina party’s effort to engage the community outside of politics by helping at churches and food banks, and registering people for insurance under the Affordable Care Act should be a national model,” Eaton writes.
Kasich, abroad: Ohio Gov. John Kasich will travel to Europe on Thursday to discuss economic development and policy with world and business leaders, the Associated Press reports.
Kasich is expected to spend time in England and Germany. Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain asked Kasich to join a bipartisan congressional delegation at the Munich Security Conference.
“Kasich also plans business meetings in London seeking new development for Ohio in the fields of advanced manufacturing, energy, finance and automotive technology. His itinerary was arranged by JobsOhio, Kasich’s privatized job-creation office,” according to the AP report.
“The United Kingdom and Germany are among top nations with investments in Ohio. Some 60,000 Ohioans are employed by companies including Siemens, BMW Financial Services, Laird Technologies, Smiths Medical and Steris,” the AP reports.
Cleveland City Hall: Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson, who’s held his seat since 1980, faces competition in this year’s City Council race, cleveland.com reporter Robert Higgs writes.
A rule of thumb for local elections is that incumbent officeholders often don’t face many challengers for re-election.
But that’s not the case for Johnson. Among the challengers who have taken out nominating petitions are community and labor activists and some real estate professionals.
All 17 seats on Cleveland City Council are up for election this year. Candidates have until June 29 to file nominating petitions with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections if they want to appear on the Sept. 12 municipal primary ballot.
Victim rights: “A proposed Ohio constitutional amendment granting rights to crime victims has the support of a bipartisan coalition of prosecutors, law enforcement officials and advocacy groups,” cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt writes. “Supporters of the amendment, called Marsy’s Law for Ohio, said crime victims’ rights currently included in the Ohio Constitution aren’t equally enforced across the state.”
“The amendment would enumerate 10 rights for victims, including to be present at court proceedings and provide input before a plea deal is struck, be notified of changes in an offender’s status, have a prompt conclusion to the case without unreasonable delay and receive restitution,” Borchardt writes.
Tampon tax: Two Ohio lawmakers said they are sponsoring legislation to eliminate sales tax on feminine products, Dayton Daily News reporter Laura Bischoff writes. “A tampon is a medical necessity for Ohio women– not a luxury item,” said State Rep. Greta Johnson, who’s sponsoring the bill. “In a state where women are paid less for the same work as men, every cent counts. The “Pink Tax” takes unfairly more money out of the pockets of women and undermines the economic stability of working families.”
Back at the White House: Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was barred from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, cleveland.com reporter Joey Morona writes.
“Co-anchor Mika Brzezinski effectively banned one of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers from appearing on the show during an on-air exchange with partner Joe Scarborough during Wednesday morning’s broadcast,” Morona writes.
“I know for a fact she tries to book herself on this show,” Brzezinski said. “I won’t do it because I don’t believe in fake news or information that is not true. That is, every time I’ve ever seen her on television something is askew, off or incorrect,” Brzezinski said.
Calls for investigation: Brown, the Democratic U.S. senator from Ohio, joined a group of Democratic lawmakers asking for an investigation into the possible illegal actions of former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Columbus Dispatch reporter Jack Torry writes. Flynn is accused of speaking with the Russian government about relaxing U.S. sanctions against the country.
The 11 senators wrote to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and called for an investigation.
“The disclosure that General Flynn spoke repeatedly to Russian Ambassador Kislyak regarding the easing of U.S. sanctions on Russia, potentially undermining important U.S. foreign policy, reveals a stunning and potentially criminal dereliction of General Flynn’s duty to our nation,” the senators said in the letter. “The revelation of these secret calls by General Flynn arises amidst several serious unresolved questions about ties between this administration and Russia.”