Category Archives: Sexually Oriented Business

Principles and Policies Podcast For Saturday 2/9/2019- Signs Of A Collapsing Society

Principles and Policies Podcast For Saturday 2/9/2019- Barry Sheets and Chuck Michaelis examine a recent “drag show” in a Lancaster Ohio bar that featured a 9-10 year old child as the headliner and what it means in terms of the current state of society.


Links- Ohio Value Voters Website

Ohio Value Voters Post On The Drag Show

Documentation on the Lancaster “Performer”

Video of the Lancaster Drag Show “Performance”

Positive Story From The Toledo Blade on “Miss Mae Hem”

Rand Corporation Report On Human Trafficking

RadarRecent Research on Human Trafficking in Ohio

A previous post on this blog introduced you to the topic of human trafficking and its prevalence, both internationally and domestically. Most policy-makers like to know its impact on their own state or local community.

As a result, the Rand Corporation was contracted to conduct a study on human trafficking, specifically addressing its impact in Ohio. They recently concluded their study and have published their findings in a report, aptly titled “Human Trafficking in Ohio; markets, responses, and considerations”.

Their research came from primary source documents (newspaper articles specifically related to human trafficking) and interviews with law enforcement and social service providers.

The goals of this research were three-fold:

  1. To describe the minimum extent to which human trafficking occurs in Ohio using concrete cases for which there is evidence supporting a trafficking offense

  2. To describe the awareness and response of the criminal justice community, focusing on such issues as how agencies become aware of human trafficking cases and what factors, facilitate or impede detection, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking, and

  3. Explore how the social service community has responded to the human trafficking community, seeking to describe the needs that are critical to the trafficking victim.

Some highlights:

Research focused on two urban regions, Toledo and Columbus. Toledo research focused primarily on several underage prostitution cases. Columbus research addressed several brothels in the NE part of the city and also labor trafficking cases.

Juvenile victims of human sex trafficking in the case studies were exclusively female, ranging in age from 10 -17.

Recruitment of victims suggests that these victims are often runaways or are on the street due to family or substance abuse problems.

These trafficking victims made $300 – $1,000 per night (focusing on a Harrisburg, PA prostitution ring that originated in Toledo).

In Toledo, the criminal justice community has made significant changes to promote awareness, identification, and investigation of human trafficking cases. In Columbus, however, there is very little awareness of this issue.

Key Policy Considerations:

  • Need for greater awareness among the general public, potential first responders, parents, prosecutors, and other justice system personnel. This would be provided in two parts: general awareness information to all parties, and stakeholder-specific training (such as law enforcement, hospital workers, etc.).

  • Improved services for human trafficking victims. These could include safe havens, secure placement, short and long-term housing assistance, treatment and outreach, legal aid services, etc.

  • The need to address the “demand” side of trafficking. This may include john schools, increased penalties for johns and others who benefit from the trafficking of the victim, etc. Also, better mechanisms to prosecute the owners of various establishments if they are found to house illegal businesses.

  • Need for more personnel and resources (including financial) to address this issue. Human trafficking investigations consume significant amounts of time and are low-yield in terms of prosecution.

  • Refinement of departmental policies. There are at least three changes that should be made:
    1. a screening process and standard protocol for law enforcement personnel to follow when interacting with human trafficking victims (what questions to ask, what behaviors to watch for, etc.).

    2. addressing overlapping jurisdictional issues to assist victims – such as a shelter only serving a certain county, etc.

    3. helping child welfare and juvenile welfare agencies to see an underage prostitute as a victim, not a criminal. Make this person have a higher priority in the system.

For more information, or to obtain a copy of this report, please visit: www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG689/

Issue 1- RIP

RadarOhio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has (finally) issued a directive to the county boards of election directing that they not count votes cast for Issue 1, the referendum on the Community Defense Act (CDA).

She based her directive on the Ohio Supreme Court’s rejection of motions from the No On Issue 1 Committee attorneys asking the court to force validation of signatures collected that were originally rejected for a variety of reasons. The court’s decision effectively telegraphed that the result of another pending suite in the Ohio 10th Circuit court would have no effect on the outcome, thus leaving Brunner no choice except to issue the directive. Had she failed to do so, and this was a possibility, Issue 1 would have been “live” meaning the votes would have been counted leaving legal avenues open for nearly perpetual lawsuits, one of the reasons that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled as they did.

We continue to urge you to vote in the strongest manner we can. VOTE ON TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2007!

Strike One; “Mandamus will not issue to compel a vain act.”

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RadarWe have been blogging that Issue 1, the referendum on the Community Defense Act (CDA) is still a live ballot question, despite Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s notification of the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee) that it did not meet the requirements to put the issue on the ballot. She still has not notified the county boards of election that the issue is dead so it continues to be live for the November 6, 2007 election. She claims that she has delayed making the notification because of a pending Ohio Supreme Court Case seeking to force validation of signatures.

In a decision issued today by the Ohio Supreme Court those arguments in favor of forcing validation of invalid signatures have crashed with a resounding thud. The phrase the justices used from an earlier case, “Mandamus will not issue to compel a vain act” tells the story of the decision. In reading the decision, one gets the impression that the arguments in favor of validation are not being rebuked in a polite but gentle fashion so much as being subjected to a legal smackdown.

The justices rejected several arguments by explaining that to accept them would tantamount to creating complete electoral chaos by opening large loopholes in which referendum organizers could force acceptance of bad signatures by simply forgoing challenges until time limit windows had closed. They also rejected arguments that would have required local boards of election to validate all of the signatures collected again, nearly 700,000, while validating supplemental signatures- all within a 5 day window! They also rejected arguments that signatures from county boards of election should be automatically counted as valid if the Secretary of State’s return deadline were missed. The justices were not impressed

Although some of the boards violated the five-day requirement of R.C. 3519.16, it is clear from the secretary of state’s worklog that by the time of the secretary of state’s October 17 insufficiency determination, which was only two days after the statutory deadline, she had received from the boards of elections all of their verification reports concerning the sufficiency of the signatures contained on the supplemental part-petitions. The primary purpose of the requirement in R.C. 3519.16 ─ that the boards promptly make their sufficiency determinations of supplemental part-petitions ─ was served. There is also no evidence here that the minimal additional time taken by some of the boards of elections was intended to impair relators’ referendum rights.


Now, for this last out, ninth inning rally to be brought to a close only two more strikes are necessary; Jennifer Brunner has to issue notifications to the county boards of election that Issue 1 is dead and a 10th Circuit court challenge, for forced acceptance of certain invalidated signatures from the “3 C” counties, needs to be rejected. The Ohio Supreme Court has already telegraphed in their decision that they won’t look favorably on the arguments being employed by the plaintiffs in that case. Keep watching this site.

When Not Enough Is Too Much

RadarThe Columbus Dispatch for Saturday October 27, 2007 reports that more than $1.3 million was spent on the recent effort to repeal the Community Defense Act (CDA). The Toledo Blade for the same date has a similar if more detailed report. Both articles report the same amount of money spent (which may be a low figure) but give vastly different amounts of money donated by the Buckeye Assoc. of Club Executives (BACE), a group of strip club owners and managers and General Video of America (GVA), a Cleveland based pornography distributor. The Dispatch reports that BACE put up $640,000 and GVA contributed $345,000 in cash and in-kind donations. This adds up to about $985,000 about $315,000 short of the total spending reported. The Blade reports BACE putting in $785,500 and GVA contributing $431,042. This total is about $100,000 shy of the reported total spending. Neither report indicates what earlier spending reports revealed- that substantial donations came from out-of-state pornography producers. So why is that not covered in the stories and is the reason for the discrepancy that journalists are giving the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee) a break (or maybe reporters just can’t add)?

The report in the Blade speculates that the only winner was the Craig Group, a Columbus political consulting and marketing company that ran the initial signature collection effort. They got a million dollars to get the job done. They couldn’t do better than to turn in signatures at a validity rate under 33%. They blame the short time frame. Frankly, we don’t buy these excuses. In 2004 signatures were gathered by a group of mostly volunteer gatherers at a rate exceeding 50% in a similar time frame. When Phil Craig, President of the Craig Group, says “…there’s no way to know what the validation rates are going to be” he is correct. You never know for sure, but you can sabotage your own effort when you engage in practices like the following:

  • Hire convicted felons to gather signatures- it’s illegal in Ohio

  • Engage in fraud to get people to sign, then get caught by media who are only too happy to expose it to the public

  • Take on an issue that would de-regulate sex businesses, businesses most people would prefer either didn’t exist or if they must exist, that they do so in someone else’s neighborhood- something which requires some form of regulation

  • Make sure everybody knows what you’re about by opening your campaign with a press conference where strippers in tight pink t-shirts give impassioned speeches which reveal how much money they are making, mostly from boyfriends and husbands of women watching from home

  • Act as agents for corporations whose leadership who have no qualms about, and in fact are proud to engage in, exploitation of a man’s natural desire to view attractive women’ bodies and women’s perceived need for income for a number of reasons, often including broken families

Phil Burress, President of CCV, put it very succinctly in the Blade article. He said

“They tried to hijack our name and then changed it…They put people on the street who lied to voters, saying the petition would close down strip bars. … They hired ex-convicts to collect signatures, which is a violation of the law …So we’re supposed to be surprised when, out of 612,000, they’ve only got 181,000 [valid] signatures?”


So we definitely disagree that the Craig Group is a “winner” in this situation. The whole effort is a “loser” for many reasons.

The Blade has a quote from Sandy Theis, a spokesman for the Committee that is a stunning revelation of her ability to twist the truth of events in order to make it appear that, somehow, her side of the issue had been presented with some unfair disadvantage. Theis says

“It shows the importance of having good-quality control to catch problem circulators and problem petitions early in the process,”


Indeed! It also shows the necessity of actually desiring to engage in quality control. Since the signature gatherers hired by the Craig Group were producing signatures by engaging in fraud, quality control was not really necessary. Only after journalists began to investigate and report on the open, obvious and illegal methods being used was some form of “quality control” begun. It consisted of firing a few of the most egregious practitioners of fraud and supposedly discarding their petitions. As we have blogged about previously, Theis claimed that petitioners had been “trained and retrained.” This didn’t stop the fraud, as several journalists reported.

Theis then goes on

“This shows what a huge favor the lawmakers did for CCV [Citizens for Community Values] by not making them go the referendum route”


Theis is completely disingenuous here. The fact is this law (the Community Defense Act or CDA) was passed in substantially its present form by the Ohio House of Representatives by a wide margin in the 2006 session and sent to the Ohio Senate. It appeared to be set for an easy passage. Then high profile lobbyists for the sex industry, the same sex industry that employs Ms. Theis, began the financial and political political wire-pulling and log-rolling in the Senate. Senate leadership caved to sex industry lobbying pressure and allowed the bill to be virtually gutted. That was the version that passed.

What followed was a CCV led ballot initiative petition drive to pass the CDA as it was originally designed. The strategy was to get signatures to authorize the collection of enough signatures to bring the law to a general election up or down vote. People were begging to sign these petitions. They wanted the law. Once the ballot initiative drive was qualified, the Ohio Legislature had a window of time in which to pass the proposed law or face the political embarrassment of being bypassed by the electorate. When it became clear that those behind the passage of the referendum were serious and that they were prepared to do the same thing that virtually the same coalition had accomplished in 2004 with the Marriage Protection Amendment, the legislature passed the law substantially intact, albeit at the last possible minute. This, despite tremendous financial and political pressure from sex business lobbyists (the same lobbyists that represent gambling interests) and political maneuvering from their allies in the legislature. Sorry, Ms. Theis. Unlike the strip clubs, CDA supporters got no special favors from the legislature.

The sex industry spent money by the wheelbarrow full, unleashed the PR hounds and engaged in fraud in order to reach the ballot. That failed. Now they are trying to get the courts to see it their way. Jennifer Brunner, the Secretary of State, whose job it is to see that elections are conducted in a fair and legal manner, is engaging in a game of electoral brinksmanship. It is notable that her husband Rick has done legal work for the strip clubs and is a registered lobbyist. Shouldn’t this mean that she should recuse herself from the process, as her predecessor, Ken Blackwell did when he had a conflict of interest? She has notified the Committee that they did not qualify for the ballot but she has not notified the local boards of election (see our earlier posting on the same subject for details). This means as of right now Issue 1 is a live ballot issue. Should this be qualified for the ballot by judicial fiat, it is imperative that the word get out that voting on Tuesday Nov. 6 is of vital importance.

Was You Ever Bit By A Dead Bee?

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RadarWalter Brennan’s character, Eddie the alcoholic first mate to Humphrey Bogart’s Captain Harry Morgan, asks this seemingly non-sequitur question at random times in the 1944 movie To Have And Have Not. It may not have made much sense in the movie but there is a possibility that it has taken on a new and serious meaning in Ohio electoral politics this fall.

Jennifer Brunner, the Secretary of State, notified the No On Issue 1 Committee on October 17 that they had failed to meet the requirements to place Issue 1 on the ballot. However, to date, no such notification has been given to the parties that really matter- the local county boards of election. There is a suit currently before the Ohio Supreme Court to get the justices to force Brunner to certify enough bad signatures for the issue to be placed on the ballot (not that we think she needs too much forcing). In other words, until Brunner notifies the local boards of election that Issue 1 is officially dead, it’s a live ballot question on November 6! Yes there’s a potent odor of fish about all of this but that observation bears analyzing at a nother time.

What’s that mean? It means get out the vote! Do not, REPEAT, do not plan to sit this one out! There might be no ruling from the Supreme Court until the Friday or even Monday before the election!

So just as a reminder-

If you favor the regulation of strip clubs and adult businesses you must vote “YES”

If you favor allowing strip clubs to continue to operate with no state regulation vote “no”

Please pass the word to everyone. Do Not Forget To Vote On Tuesday November 6! This is of vital importance!

You can help pass the word. Citizens For Community Values (CCV) has church bulletin inserts on Issue 1 available. They also have built a website that is the place to go for official news and information on Issue 1.

Pastors, elders, and church board members; if you fear involving your church in the referendum, please read this letter from the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that helps churches speak out on matters of social importance.

From The Will Of The People To The Will Of The Judiciary In One Easy Step

RadarAfter months of fraud tinged effort and at least 1.5 million dollars of sex shop, out-of-state pornography producer and strip club money spent by high-price Columbus political consulting firms, the effort to get the Community Defense Act (CDA) to the ballot for an up-or-down vote has failed. The final valid signature rate for the effort hovered somewhere around the 28% mark, a dismal performance by any standard.

The signature drive began with a group of buxom young strippers dressed in matching tight pink t-shirts, called the Dancers for Democracy (dubbed the double D coalition by one wag) holding a press conference. At least one Ohio State Senator, Teresa Fedor, stood in solidarity with the strippers and spoke at the press conference. Fedor later demonstrated gross hypocrisy by feigning shock and outrage that strippers had performed at a Lucas County Democratic Party fundraiser. The Dancers for Democracy, in reality a front group for the strip club owners, quickly faded from the public eye when it became clear that the women were a public relations nightmare. The PR guys just couldn’t sell wives and girlfriends on the “right to lap dance” as a women’s issue. Attempts to make the drive a grass roots effort never caught on. The public knows that strip clubs are often the central point for crime activity in their neighborhoods, especially as gateways for prostitution and human trafficking, and didn’t want them to continue unregulated.

Contrast the anti-CDA signature drive with other true grass roots efforts. In 2004 the successful Marriage Protection Amendment drive delivered valid signatures at a rate well over 50% and cost a fraction of what the anti-CDA effort has cost (so far). The vast majority of signatures were collected by volunteers, with a relative few collected by paid petition passers in contrast to the anti-CDA effort which utilized mostly paid gatherers, some making as much as $3 per signature! In short, the group who led the effort to repeal the CDA, the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee), simply could not match the efforts of a highly motivated group of volunteers with the help and support of a few donation-funded grass roots social issue groups with a swarm of paid signature gatherers hired and coordinated by high-priced professional electioneering consultants and using fraudulent collection methods.

Having failed to spark a groundswell of support for unregulated sex businesses with the general public, it should have been clear to the Committee that, unless mass confusion could be created among voters (and make no mistake that this was part of the plan. The Committee made a $5 million media buy before the signature drive failed), Issue 1 would go down to a resounding defeat at the ballot box. This does not appear to be the case, at least at first glance. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch on Thursday, October 18, 2007 two lawsuits have been filed in a last-ditch effort to get Issue 1 to the ballot. But the Committee seems to be torn regarding their approach, and for good reason.

First, even if the case in the Ohio Supreme Court, requiring that all signatures with bad addresses and those not returned by the deadline to the Secretary of State’s office succeeds, the issue faces the probable ballot box drubbing mentioned above.

Second, and this is what really makes the attorneys for the Committee sweat bullets, is the fact that the governing federal circuit courts of the federal district courts that are hearing the Committe’s suit on the bill’s constitutionality have already approved more stringent regulations in this circuit as well as other circuits. Citizens For Community Values (CCV) has listed several such cases on their website. This option looks like a low-percentage bet as well but could tie up the law for up to 2 years.

So which way should the Committee go? Well, the federal lawsuit angle has the potential to tie the law up for the longest length of time, thus maximizing the profits to the clubs. The Ohio ballot box option appears, currently at least, to be the act of a sadistic equestrian necrophile- beating a dead horse. Follow the money. Chances are a token effort will be made in the ballot access but the real effort will on the federal suit.

The people, having proven to be an “unenlightened” lot, at least on the issue of unregulated stripping and sex businesses, cannot be trusted to understand what is good for them and for society. Therefore, at least as far as the club owners thinking goes, it’s time to flout the will of the people and go to the only remaining remedy, a group that has proven itself capable of seeing things the way the pornographers and sex businesses do from time to time. The federal judiciary. And so we see that having failed to stir the will of the people, the Committee must rely on arousing the will of a potential champion of their “rights.” From the will of the people to the will of the judiciary in one easy step.

When Is Enough Not Enough- Update

RadarAn article in the Columbus Dispatch is helping connect the dots on the fraud-riddled campaign to kill the Community Defense Act (CDA), a law which puts restrictions on what dancers and patrons can do at strip clubs and also (finally) gives some power to local authorities in rural areas to pass effective local restrictions. A group known as the Vote No on Issue 1 Committee (the Committee) is using every legal maneuver in its bag of tricks (and its a very big bag full of tricks and illusions designed to fool the public as noted in earlier blog articles) to get more time to gather signatures for its effort to get its referendum to the ballot.

The Dispatch reports that attorneys for the committee are trying desperate maneuvers to get a few extra days of signature gathering time. They have sued to change the signature gathering deadline from Friday October 5, 2007 to Sunday October 7, 2007, an additional 2 days and really 4 days since the Secretary of State’s office is closed on Sundays and Monday is a holiday. The judge, Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Horton, has refused to issue a temporary restraining order but is holding a hearing at 9:00 AM on Friday October 5, 2007 for an injunction.

Why are we concluding that desperation is behind these efforts? The Committee is arguing for just 2 more days (really 4) using an almost unbelievably vacuous legal argument. Attorneys for the Committee are arguing that an additional 10 day window for meeting the signature minimums required for ballot access (a standard practice) began not when the Secretary of State sent the letter but when representatives of the Committee received the letter. What makes this argument absurd you ask? First, because the letter is a formality. The Committee has known for some time that they weren’t going to make it. They didn’t need the letter from the Secretary of State to know that. Secondly, because the Committee never stopped collecting signatures after it turned in the original batch in September. They have had weeks to gather the nearly 400,000 they will need, if the previous valid signature rate of 31% holds, so two more days probably won’t make much difference if recent scuttlebutt proves true. And that scuttlebutt says that signature gatherers are having trouble getting people to sign. A lot of trouble. The bad publicity from earlier petition fraud has now caught up and is stifling additional efforts to gather signatures. People want to avoid being defrauded or being involved in fraud. The Dispatch reports that as of Tuesday October 2, 2007 the Committee had only added 150,000 additional signatures to their total. Assuming a 31% validity rate thats less than 47,000 valid signatures towards about 116,000 necessary. Pretty dismal.

An article in the Dispatch from Tuesday October 2, 2007 says that the Craig Group is “…no longer is collecting signatures…” a polite way of saying they’ve been fired. The article also says they were paid $1 million dollars, a million bucks (!), to get the job done. Who wonders out there if the check has cleared or even if it has been cut yet? Frankly, it is difficult to believe that any group that condones petition fraud by turning in signatures gathered under false pretenses wouldn’t also hesitate to stiff the people hired to get the signatures. Oh, yes and where exactly has all of the money to run the referendum campaign come from. Preliminary reports say that about 75% of the millions spent so far have come from out of state pornography producers. Nice allies, eh?

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on all of this is that, despite the bad news coming out for the Committee we must assume that this issue will be on the ballot. There are still lots of legal tricks and shenanigans available to the strip club executives and pornography producers behind this effort and the Secretary of State has proven to be at least “friendly” to the Committee, perhaps due to her husband’s cozy relations with the strip club owners.

So here it is-

On the November 6 ballot the ballot initiative will be Issue 1.

If you want the CDA law which regulates strip club and adult business hours and activities to take effect you must voteYES

If you want strip clubs and adult businesses to continue to operate unregulated you must vote- NO

If you care about this issue- GET OUT AND VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6!

When Is Enough Not Enough-Update

RadarWell, a fraud riddled petition drive has so far proven to be a worse debacle than even we envisioned. On Sept. 3 The Vote No On Issue One Committee (the Committee, formerly the Citizens For Community Standards or CCS) submitted to the Secretary of State’s office 382,508 signatures on petitions to bring the Community Defense Act (CDA) to the ballot for an up or down vote this fall. The Committee needed 241,366 valid signatures.

We predicted in the earlier article that at least 400,000 signatures would be required for the Coalition to achieve their goal, even with the blatantly fraudulent pitch being used (“would you like to sign a petition to regulate strip clubs?”). In reality we were off by a factor of about 2. Since the political public relations and marketing firm hired by the Committee, the Craig Group was only able to achieve a 31% valid signature rate (a dismal rate by any standard and a complete embarassment to the Craig Group) the actual number of signatures needed to get the minimum number of valid signatures climbs to about 780,000 (an additional 400,000), a virtually insurmountable number.

Starting Tuesday Sept. 25 the Committee has 10 business days to get these additional 400,000 signatures. Of course they will give it their best effort but the chances of collecting enough valid signatures is slim. The committee, which is in reality a coalition of strip club owners and California pornography producers, have another tactic at their disposal. When the petition drive fails they can also file suit in court to force validation of bad signatures. Guess which tactic the Committee is most probably going to end up employing? That’s right. The lawsuit.

The Committee intends to sue the boards of election of Franklin, Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties because these are the counties with the largest number of signatures and are among the lowest in valid signatures (Franklin- 26% valid, Hamilton- 29%, Cuyahoga- 33%). The grounds? That voters in these counties were disenfranchised because the addresses they gave were invalid. Huh!?

No mention, naturally, of the mass fraud the paid signature collectors employed in duping people into signing a petition to “regulate strip clubs.” Fraud so blatant that the Lucas County prosecutor was quoted in the Columbus Dispatch as saying “In 10 years on the job…[i]t’s probably the worst I’ve seen.” It should come as no shock to anyone that a group of strip club owners funded by pornography producers thinks that signatures collected by any and all means, even fraud, should be acceptable. To people who make their profit by exploiting womens’ bodies and mens’ innate sexual desires, and do nothing while a number of the members of their organization either look aside or actively engage in drug dealing, gun running, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering, etc., petition fraud is really “no big deal.”

Interestingly, assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Borell, isn’t interested in prosecuting the worst petition fraud he’s ever seen. According to the Toledo Blade,

Mr. Borell said it is unlikely the county would bring fraud action against the petition circulators. It is more likely that supporters of the now-shelved law would make alleged fraud an issue in court should the strip clubs and their dancers succeed in filling the signature gap over the next 10 business days and win ballot certification.

This should raise a number of questions (any journalists out there paying attention?), primary among them why a county prosecutor refuses to do his job, citing fanciful possibilities of private lawsuits to bring criminals to justice. Especially in Lucas County where an extremely intricate high stakes chess match was played out this summer over the control of the Lucas County Democratic Party. The players included State Senator for Lucas County Teresa Fedor and State Rep. Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman. The ostensible reason for the internecine fight for control was a golf outing which featured strippers as drink cart attendants (dutifully supplied by strip club owning Democratic Party donors) who apparently plied their trade.

Senator Fedor feigned shock and outrage at hearing of this and called in Rep. Redfern to issue party discipline. Both Redfern and Fedor had voted against CDA in the Ohio legislature, Fedor going so far as to appear at a press conference in support of a group of strippers calling themselves the “Dancers For Democracy” who were a front for the Committee in launching the campaign against the CDA, proving that their shock and outrage was a not particularly well-designed ruse. This left Fedor in de facto control of the party. Does this fact have anything to do with the Democratically-controlled prosecutor’s office reluctance to bring fraudsters to justice? We know that the Lucas County Democratic Party has received money from strip club owners but does prosecutor Julia Bates have strip clubs or their owners in her campaign donor lists? What about Fedor? Other counties (Ashland, Hamilton, etc.) didn’t hesitate to begin prosecutorial procedures against petitioners who committed open and blatant fraud. Why not Lucas?

Other questions; Why did Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wait an extra day before issuing the letter to the Committee giving them 10 business days to gather the necessary signatures? She knew by the weekend that the initial petition drive was a failure, yet Monday apparently wasn’t good enough to issue the letter to the Committee. Could it be that she wanted to provide an extra weekend for the Committee to gather signatures? And why is she so friendly to the strip club-pornographer coalition? Could it be that her husband, Rick Brunner, does legal work for strip clubs? Rick Brunner is also a registered lobbyist. Is he doing any lobbying work for his strip club clients? Are there strip club or owner contributions in her donor list?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for news media outlets (especially in Columbus and Cleveland) to ask these pivotal questions, but ask them to do it anyway.

When Is Enough Not Enough?

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When it’s only 3% more than the minimum required number of valid signatures for a ballot initiative. The duplicitously named Citizens For Community Standards (CCS) is making sure everybody knows that they have exceeded their goal of 241,366 signatures on a referendum petition designed to bring the recently passed Community Defense Act (CDA) to the ballot for a yes or no vote in the November election. Media outlets are dutifully (and some joyfully) reporting that the Dancers For Democracy, a front group for the strip club and sex equipment and book shop owners, have achieved their goal and even exceeded it.

Left out of many of the major media stories, however, is the fact that 3% over the total necessary for the initiative will yield nothing close to the required number of valid signatures, unless a miracle of Biblical proportions occurs in the 88 county boards of election in Ohio. So what is a valid signature anyway? A valid signature is the legal signature of an Ohio citizen of majority age (18) who is registered to vote in Ohio or will be registered by the time the petitions are being validated. Very importantly, and virtually ignored by the media outlets is that in order for the signatures to be valid, the signers must have something approaching a true understanding of what they’re signing.

As we have blogged in the past there appears to be rampant fraud in gathering signatures for the petitions. Two of the previously blogged stories from Ohio Public Radio’s Bill Cohen contained recordings of the actual fraudulent pitches being made. In a follow up report on August 3, 2007 Cohen again reports that the fraudulent pitches are still being made and that unsuspecting Ohioans are being conned into signing petitions that will stop the implementation of a law that the signers actually want to take effect. This audio report is also accompanied by recordings of signature gatherers engaging in fraud. In one case the petitioner has told a signer that he is signing a petition to “…help kids in schools…” In another follow up report on August 9, 2007, Bill Cohen reports that CCS is making efforts to “stop the fraud” and have fired 10 petitioners and claim to have thrown out their petitions (with 4 fired in the Toledo area earlier with no promises of thrown out petitions). But, when aggregating the Columbus Dispatch and Bill Cohen’s reports, at least four separate examples of fraud perpetrated by different petition gatherers in central Ohio alone are identified, this effort appears to be a token release of the offenders who got caught. CCS would have you believe that all responsibility for what is being signed lies with the signer. And that’s true as far as it goes. But they forget to mention that the petition carriers have a responsibility to provide an accurate description of what is being signed, not a purposeful con job. Additionally, potential signers have the right to request a visual inspection of the petition and a right to read the full text of the proposal before signing.

This may seem like nit-picking to the casual observer, but it is becoming apparent that CCS chose its name to deliberately confuse the electorate into believing it is the same group (Citizens For Community Values or CCV) that helped push through the CDA into law in the first place. Why would this be the case?

You see, Ohio is a pivotal state for the adult business industry. Ohio has the dubious distinction of ranking number 5 in the states with the largest number of strip clubs. On top of this fact is the ugly reality that Ohio is a major hub for human trafficking activities, thanks to its proximity to legal and illegal ports of entry (Buffalo, Cleveland, Lake Erie, Detroit) and easy access to travel routes to end destinations (I-80-90, I-75, I-71, etc). The adult business industry, specifically the businesses regulated by the CDA- strip clubs, massage parlors, pornography, etc. are all recognized as entry portals into human trafficking.

What happens here in Ohio often leads the rest of the country. The CDA regulations, once they take effect, could act as a model for other states. Therefore, a little deception to delay or repeal the implementation of the law is no big deal to the sexually oriented business industry. The longer the adult business moguls can hold off the implementation of this law the better for their profits, and conversely, the worse for the victims of human trafficking. A review of the first PAC filing of this industry group reveals that nearly half of the $125,000 raised so far came from pornography production and distribution companies in California. Hmmmm, what was that about “community standards” that the porn and stripper groups are trying to hide behind?

And that’s the missing element in the debate over CDA. The sex trade isn’t just a libertarian lark where women do “what they please” with their bodies and no one gets hurt. When Ohio State Senator Steve Stivers (R) pulled a “John Kerry” and voted for the CDA before he signed a petition to stop its implementation (yes, he did sign one and he knew what it was for) he exhibited a deep lack of understanding or a callousness to the human trafficking issues lurking underneath the sleek libertarian exterior of “freedom of expression” arguments put forward by the sex trade. In either case he has proven himself unworthy to represent his district on this issue, much less to become the leader of the “upper chamber” of the Ohio legislature, the Ohio Senate.

The same can be said of State Senator Teresa Fedor (D) whom we have blogged about earlier on this issue. Her blatant hypocrisy is a stunning self-expose, or would be if major media would take the time and effort to connect the dots. Fedor ignored the true realities of the nature of the sex industry and voted against the CDA, then actually appeared with the “Dancers For Democracy” (a lobbying group of strippers) and spoke at their press conference as they were trying to kill the bill as it was being deliberated on in the Ohio House.

Later, Fedor fulminated with mock “outrage” and “embarassment” at Lucas County Democratic Party officials over that party’s golf outing fundraiser, where strippers from a local establishment “refreshed” party regulars at beverage stops on the course. Guess Fedor is OK with lap dances, but not with foursome flashing. Now Fedor is reportedly preparing legislation to address the human trafficking issue. Hmmm, wonder if the Dancers for Democracy will be invited to that press conference?

The bottom line is that the “Dancers For Democracy” (in reality, Ecdysiasts For Anarchy is a better fit) have about 20 days to get an additional 140,000 or so (and realistically probably more like 200,000) signatures, in order to overcome the fake names, fraud challenges, invalid signatures, forgeries, etc. that plague petition drives, especially this one. The noise the strippers are making now is to soften the public toward the inevitable legal clash over ballot access in the fall and potential federal lawsuits to kill the law should they fail in tricking voters into voting against their own best interests. The federal lawsuit is probably inevitable, because in truth, this referendum is looking at a likely 65-35% drubbing if it reaches the ballot, according to recent polls on the issue.

The strippers will try to spin the campaign as being the “only hope for the poor helpless moms who have to strip to survive.” Thus, they will face-slap the thousands of women who work at hard, honest labor to finish school or support their children after being abandoned by husbands driven by unrealistic sexual expectations formed in the culture created in large part by the sex-traffickers. This strategy will backfire, as it did when the CDA was being debated in the Ohio Legislature- where our laws are made. Enough is enough.

No, enough really is enough.