Cuyahoga and Butler County Republicans are the latest to censure members of the Gang of 22 and their respective state representatives for joining forces with 32 Democrats to subvert the Republican supermajority and choose State Representative Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) as Speaker of the House.
Patton censured and removed from Cuyahoga county committees
The Cuyahoga County Republican Party censured State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) on Thursday March 23 after a disciplinary committee found he disregarded his obligation to the party and public by voting for Stephens. A motion of no confidence was brought against the other 21 Republican members of the House who supported Stephens. “Thomas Patton is subject to discipline for other conduct that violates the spirit of the Republican Party Central Committee bylaws. Conduct tending to injure the good name of the organization, disturb its well-being or hamper it in its work,” the Cuyahoga County Republican Party Disciplinary Committee said.
As a result, Patton was removed from the county central and executive committees and prohibited from endorsement in this election cycle. It is not clear how the censure will impact his expected run for the Ohio Senate.
Sara Carruthers censured by Butler County
The Butler County GOP on Thursday, March 2 censured Rep. Sara Carruthers twice, once as a group of the 22 state lawmakers that voted for the current Ohio Speaker of the House and individually.
“Last night, the Butler County Republican Party Central Committee, after debate and discussion, chose through a majority vote to censure the 22 State House Republicans who voted with 32 House Democrats to elect the Statehouse speaker,” said Butler County GOP Executive Chair Todd Hall. “Several other GOP county parties around the state, including the state GOP also voted to censure these representatives.”
Carruthers told the Journal-News in January she stood by her vote for Stephens, and recently reaffirmed that position. While censure does not have any immediate impact on her position in the Ohio House, it can impact her in a re-election bid in terms of endorsements and financial support.
Gang of 22 switched loyalties to elect speaker with 32 Democrats
Earlier this year, 22 Republican lawmakers joined forces with 32 Democrats to subvert the Republican supermajority and choose State Representative Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) as next House speaker. This came as a shock after the Republican Caucus in November selected State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Moncolva) to be the new speaker and all GOP reps committed at that time to vote for Merrin on January 3 at the official floor vote.
The betrayal was so out of line that the moderate State Central Committee overwhelmingly voted to censure the Gang of 22 for breaking their oaths, disregarding their obligations to the party and their constituents and colluding with Democrats. They stopped short of pulling future endorsements and financial support.
Cuyahoga and Butler County GOP latest to censure
Cuyahoga and Butler County GOP are the just latest of many throughout the state who have taken action against the Gang of 22. Days after the Ohio House Speaker vote, Shelby County’s GOP Central Committee and Monroe County’s Executive and Central committees voted to censure the Gang of 22 Republicans.
In February the Lucas County Republican voted unanimously to censure the Gang of 22. The censure prohibits any and all future Lucas County Party endorsements and financial or in-kind assistance to these individuals as elected officials or candidates for any office. At the time Chairman Chris Joseph said he was specifically disappointed in Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) for being the only northwest Ohio state representative to collaborate with the Democrats.
Backdoor deal with Democrats and funding from government unions
In addition to subverting the Republican supermajority that many grassroots members had worked hard to create, republicans were also angered by a report that Democrats backed Stephens because he assured minority leader Russo that he would work in good faith with Democrats on issues like redistricting, school funding, workers’ rights, and infrastructure projects.
The Ohio Press Network later reported that the Gang of 22 members were the only Republican candidates to accept donations from two government-affiliated unions during the 2021-2022 election cycle: the Ohio Association of Public School Employees and the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA).
Gang of 22 members include the following: Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison), Monica Blasdel (R-Columbiana County), Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), Jon Cross (R-Kenton), Al Cutrona (R-Canfield), Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg), Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), Don Jones (R-Freeport), Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township), Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta), Kevin Miller (R-Newark), Scott Oelslanger (R-North Canton), Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), Gail Pavliga (R-Portage County) Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House), Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville), Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), Bob Young (R- Green), and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland).