TIFFIN, OH — Rachel Crooks, the Democratic candidate who is challenging Bill Reineke for the District 88 seat in the Ohio House of Representatives, issued a statement today condemning Mr. Reineke for playing political cover games due to the upcoming November election. District 88 includes all of Sandusky County and a majority of Seneca County.
Crooks cites the recent introduction of House Bill 707, co-sponsored by Mr. Reineke and Representative Keith Faber, to “study” the e-school problem in Ohio despite the fact both men have long promoted e-schools like the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT).
HB 707, which didn’t even make it to a committee vote, was tabled only two days after its introduction and right before the legislators recessed themselves until after the November election.
Crooks notes, “For years Democrats in the Ohio statehouse called on legislators to increase accountability for for-profit charter schools like ECOT, only to find their requests ignored by the Republican majority. Meanwhile, we continue to learn more about the ECOT scandal, and how taxpayers were ripped off while Republicans accepted donations tied to ECOT.”
New reporting by think tank Innovation Ohio shows that ECOT stole nearly $200 million from Ohio taxpayers over the past 18 years, making it perhaps the largest political scandal in Ohio history.
In the past six years alone, over $4 million was siphoned to ECOT from schools in District 88, which Mr. Reineke currently represents.
Mr. Reineke took over $12,000 in donations – as did many Republicans at the statehouse – from the ECOT founder, Bill Lager. Last month Crooks asked Reineke in a release to explain the money he took from the ECOT founder.
The Advertiser-Tribune reported that Reineke had no comment on whether he would donate funding received from Lager, despite the fact that many Republicans have done so already amidst this scandal.
“Mr. Reineke’s ploy to appear as though he’s tough on e-schools like ECOT is a slap in the face to the taxpayers of Ohio and our district,” Crooks states.
“I am appalled that he would introduce legislation pretending he’s concerned about this issue while at the same time maintaining his cozy relationship with for-profit charters. Seems coincidental now that he has me challenging him in the upcoming election.”
Crooks also cites Mr. Reineke’s recent position change on wind turbine setback regulations as a political maneuver hoping to curry favor with the growing anti-wind opposition that has formed locally.
Reineke recently issued a statement announcing that he was flipping his stance on the pending legislation that would reduce setback regulations and spur more wind development in Sandusky and Seneca counties.
“Imagine how much time and energy could have been saved, especially for those involved in the Seneca Anti-Wind Union, had Mr. Reineke done his research before publicly promoting the wind projects,” Crooks states. “Why would someone support something without first looking into the matter and consulting his constituents?”
Crooks released her stance on the wind turbine projects two weeks prior to Mr. Reineke, and after, she says, she listened to the concerns of the anti-wind group and consulted with environmental experts on the subject.
According to her official statement, Crooks believes there currently is a gap in the way that Ohio handles energy development projects, including wind, and there is a need for more transparency and local involvement, especially when companies are going to be given tax incentives to support them.
“I’m so tired of shady politicians. If you do the right thing from the beginning, you don’t have to play political cover games,” Crooks states. “If you’re an elected official, you’ve been entrusted to serve the people, not yourself or just the elite of society, and it seems like too many politicians have forgotten this.”
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