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Gov. John Kasich

Some seeking Ohio records on Kasich end up empty-handed

You tend to attract attention when you run for president of the United States.

From The New York Times to Buzzfeed to pro-Democratic groups, the office of Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been inundated with public-records requests.

Journalists and special-interest and opposition researchers are digging to find out more about the Republican who aspires to the Oval Office.

But, more often than not, they have received nothing, or little, because of a lack of understanding about the complexities of Ohio’s public-records laws, a review by The Dispatch found.

And, some of the fishing expeditions have reeled in nothing for the simple fact that the governor’s office reports it has no records responsive to assorted requests.

The Dispatch asked for copies of records requests received by Kasich’s office this year and found an interest in boilerplate-type information.

For example, The Times, the news agency Reuters and American Bridge, a liberal super-PAC, essentially asked for every piece of paper generated on a broad range of areas since Kasich took office in 2011.

They sought copies of correspondence, appointment calendars, spending and travel records and a multitude of other records.

The legal staff at the governor’s office correctly replied that they were not legally required to produce a “complete duplication” of a voluminous amount of records and asked for “clarification” to narrow their requests and seek specific records.

Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews said the office receives a large number of records requests that are handled by lawyers with expertise in the topic.

In related news, Kasich rolls out plan for federal budget.

“In many cases, people may not be familiar with Ohio’s public-record laws, so we often ask them to clarify what records they are looking for so that we can properly help fulfill their request,” he said.

Buzzfeed and others were interested in Kasich’s use of state planes. Wrong office, they were told, since the Department of Transportation owns and operates the planes.

Common Cause, a good-government group, and American Bridge were out to find the costs accompanying the governor’s State Highway Patrol-provided security detail while he campaigns out of state for the presidency.

Again, they were told, wrong office. The Department of Public Safety possesses those records (and is not disclosing them on grounds that they are exempt from release as security records that could compromise Kasich’s personal safety).

Not all requests for records from the governor’s office centered on Kasich.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asked for copies of correspondence between Kasich’s office and the office of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio — and companies owned by Portman and his family.

Portman is seeking re-election next year, with former Gov. Ted Strickland and Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld battling for the Democratic nomination.

America Rising, a pro-Republican opposition-research group, asked Kasich’s office for copies of Strickland’s office expenses, appointment calendars and office visitor logs while he was governor between 2007 and 2010.

Records from the Strickland administration, Kasich’s lawyers replied, have long since been turned over to the Ohio Historical Society.

Researchers for the campaign of Republican Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and a Kasich rival for “establishment” GOP support, earlier this year sought records related to JobsOhio, the state’s privatized economic-development agency. And, they have been digging in old Kasich pre-governor congressional records at the Westerville library.

But not all requests involve digging for dirt.

An official of New Day for America, one of Kasich’s super-PACs, asked his office for records concerning “Ohio’s economic dashboard,” a summary of unemployment rates, job growth and similar information.

This article was written by Randy Ludlow from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.