The Associated Press reported Sunday 3/12/2006, that Ohio governor candidate Ken Blackwell, who is currently the Ohio Secretary of State, met with Rev. Russell Johnson and Rod Parsley or their churches 27 times from January 2004 through March of this year.
Johnson is the founder of the Ohio Restoration Project while Rev. Parsley is founder of Reformation Ohio, a similar group, and both are named in a complaint made to the IRS by 31 other clergy members. The complaint alleges Johnson and Parsley are illegally electioneering for Blackwell.
The information examined by the AP didn’t include Blackwell’s campaign schedule as Blackwell says that schedule is not subject to public review.
Overall, Blackwell’s schedule documents 75 meetings of a religious nature, including visits to churches, meetings with pastors and Christian business groups, speeches to church groups, and attendance at prayer breakfasts and Christian men’s groups.
Blackwell’s contacts with Johnson include meetings like the one on December 9, 2004, in his Columbus office at 1:00pm, when Johnson introduced the secretary of state to David Limbaugh, a conservative commentator and brother of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, according to the secretary of state’s schedule. Later that day, Blackwell spoke at a fundraiser for Johnson’s Fairfield Christian Academy.
Blackwell’s meetings with Parsley include three flights to anti-gay marriage events in 2004 aboard the seven-passenger Hawker Siddeley 125 owned by Parsley’s church. Blackwell reimbursed Parsley $1,000 for the flights.
What is even more interesting is the following bit:
Blackwell’s GOP rival for governor, Attorney General Jim Petro, declined comment, except to say he occasionally meets with ministers, but not with Parsley or Johnson. Former candidate Betty Montgomery, currently Ohio’s state auditor, also meets with ministers, but she has not met not with Parsley or Johnson.
The schedule obtained by the AP from Blackwell’s office ends in September, when the official calendar was transferred to Blackwell’s political campaign.
Asked for the public portion of Blackwell’s schedule from September through March, the campaign provided 158 pages, but most events were blacked out as campaign-related — which means they were not a public record.
Blackwell said no documents held by his campaign are covered under open records law, including calendar items that reflect events — such as appearances with the pastors — that he made as secretary of state.
Obviously he is hiding the fact that Johnson and Parsley ARE electioneering for him. Why else would the events be blacked out and not others. He admits those items blacked out he attended as the Secretary of State. They should all be available for public review if he is attending as an elected official.