J. Kenneth Blackwell is a perfect neocon. He preaches fiscal responsibility while the budget at his office grows dramatically. He quotes Martin Luther King, Jr., yet he works for the anti-affirmative action, anti-civil rights corporate-sponsored Heritage Foundation. He talks about equality for all, but one of his key aides, Sherri Dembinski, third in charge of his office — which, by the way, oversees the chartering of nonprofit organizations — receives income and gifts from the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) charter school. ECOT is the largest charter school in the state.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that managers of ECOT donated $330,000 to Ohio Republicans. If you wonder where they got that kind of money, in 2002 ECOT was caught by auditors at the Department of Education overcharging the state of Ohio as much as $7 million for children who cannot be verified as being on their school rolls. Dembinski serves on the board of ECOT, and Hackwell, of course, oversees the reporting of campaign contributions in the state.

After public scrutiny came upon Hackwell and Dembinski, she resigned and moved into a new role as vice president of an ECOT-related foundation that benefits students and organizations affiliated with the school.

Hackwell’s office as secretary of state is the embodiment of sleaze and corruption. And now the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court has decided for the first time in the state’s history that the governor of the state’s written communications with his staff are protected by “executive privilege.” This decision, will allow any governor of Ohio to keep secret any unethical and illegal conduct. This is why Hackwell must be defeated.

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