CLEVELAND, OH – On May 19, 2021, Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Johnson filed a “notice of intent to appeal” the April 20, 2021 ruling of the Supreme Court of Ohio removing him from discharging the duties of the public office to which he was elected. It’s a story that won’t be found in the Plain Dealer or cleveland.com because the basis of Johnson’s appeal begins to unravel facts laid out in a series of 17-stories written by former reporter Mark Naymik and repeated in part in an indictment sought by the United States Attorneys office for the Northern District of Ohio. Naymik now works for WKYC.
Promoting facts that contradict lies that Johnson’s monthly council expense account comes from federal “block grant” funds isn’t on their agenda. The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com want Johnson to “appear” guilty as he heads towards a July 19, 2021 federal trial date.
It’s also not on the Russian-owned news media organization’s agenda to expose Republican Ohio Attorney General David Yost’s incompetence for seeking Johnson’s suspension in violation of Section 3.16 of the Revised Code of Ohio. The three retired judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio obviously didn’t ask Yost assistant state attorney general Julie Pfeiffer if she understood the plain English language of R.C. 3.16. The larger question is did Judges Guy L. Reece, II, Joseph Gibson and L. Alan Goldsberry read it themselves?
(B)(1) If a public official is charged with a felony in a state or federal court and if the attorney general, if the attorney general is prosecuting the case, or prosecuting attorney with responsibility to prosecute the case determines that the felony relates to the public official’s administration of, or conduct in the performance of the duties of, the office of the public official, the attorney general, if the attorney general is prosecuting the case, or prosecuting attorney with responsibility to prosecute the case shall transmit a copy of the charging document to the chief justice of the supreme court with a request that the chief justice proceed as provided in division (C) of this section. If the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney transmits a copy of the charging document to the chief justice, a copy also shall be sent to the attorney general if the prosecuting attorney transmits the copy to the chief justice or to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the public official holds office if the attorney general transmits the copy to the chief justice.
It’s acting U.S. Attorney Bridgette M. Brennan and not State Attorney Yost who sought an indictment from a “federal” grand jury against Johnson on February 18, 2021. So on the surface the statutory language that disqualified Yost’s office for presenting the case – whether either side raised the issue or not – are found in the statute above no one appears to have read. This applies, particularly, to Pfeiffer who appears to have violated Civil Rule 11 when she signed it.
“(b) Representations to the Court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper—whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it—an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation; (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law; (3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”
Johnson’s federal indictment appears to focus on the false belief that he, as a single member of Cleveland’s legislative authority, discharged some form of “administrative” control over the expenditure of federal block grant funds coming from the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development. Pfeifer’s “suspension” request before the Supreme Court of Ohio falsely alleged that the monthly expense accounts of Cleveland council members is paid with federal funds.
During Yost’s 8 years as Ohio’s Auditor of State, a job he held prior to his election to the Attorney General’s office in 2018, the annual Cleveland audits he submitted to the General Assembly of Ohio concluded that council’s monthly expense account was paid from the “general fund.” No state auditor, including Yost, has ever accused Cleveland’s director of finance of “co-mingling” federal block grant funds with council’s monthly expense account. Had Pfeiffer investigated her boss’ audits of Cleveland’s finances she would not have repeated the lie contained in Johnson’s federal indictment.
The move by Pfeiffer under Yost’s direction seems more than politically-motivated and designed to use the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com to smear Johnson with Naymik’s help at WKYC prior to his July 19, 2021 trial. From a Civil Rule 11 perspective Pfeiffer errs because there’s no basis in law for the “state attorney general” who is not prosecuting Johnson to use R.C. 3.16 against him in his “federal” trial. In addition to staining Johnson’s name Yost has assigned Pfeiffer to needlessly increase his cost of litigation.
This type of misconduct and misuse of public offices is exemplary of what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called a “high tech lynching” during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearings led by President Joseph Robinette Biden as a Senator from Delaware in 1991. If the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com’s mission was “truth” its editors and beat reporters covering Johnson’s trial would have already shared this news with its readers.