To the Editor:
Ohio Conservatives are furious with 22 Republicans in Columbus. We celebrated historic wins in November with a 67-32 super-majority in the House of Representatives. We celebrated again when a true conservative, Derek Merrin, was elected Speaker of the House on November 16th.
Jason Stephens lost to Derek Merrin in that race. Immediately after his loss, he and every other Republican solemnly pledged to support the winning team. That pledge gave Republicans over a month to prepare before the 135th General Assembly officially began with a “ceremonial” vote where 67 Republicans would “officially” elect Derek Merrin as Speaker of the House.
At some point Jason Stephens changed his mind, deciding he could not honor his pledge to his Republican colleagues. Instead of doing the honorable thing and meeting with them to discuss his moral dilemma, he chose to launch a clandestine operation to overthrow the election.
He secretly convinced 21 of his Republican colleagues to vote for him “again” on January 3rd. Then he secretly convinced the Democrats not to nominate their own candidate, but to vote for him instead. Stephens secretly negotiated with Democrat House Minority Leader Allison Russo who later said, “There was clearly division on the other side, and they needed our votes…We took the opportunity to make sure that we were going to be working with a speaker who we felt like, at the end of the day, would work with us on the issues we could agree on.”
So, on January 3rd, Democrats cast 59 percent of the votes that elected Jason Stephens as the Republican Speaker of the House. They had more say in the outcome than Republicans did.
Nearly two weeks after the vote, I asked my representative, Tim Barhorst, if Jason Stevens was showing any signs of remorse for doing what he did. He said, “no, he actually seems proud that he outmaneuvered the majority of the Republicans in the House by secretly teaming up with 32 Democrats”.
As a 30-year veteran of the United States Air Force, I still strive to live out our motto of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do”. We should expect nothing less of our elected representatives! Jason Stephens failed miserably on all three counts and must be held accountable. Please feel free to contact me if you agree.