Emails obtained by Media Trackers reveal that Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s office was conspiring to use the deaths of three high school students to limit Second Amendment rights within hours of the February 2012 shootings at Chardon High School. Coleman serves as the Ohio chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), a gun-control lobbying group co-founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
At 9:02 AM on February 27, 2012 – less than two hours after T.J. Lane allegedly shot five of his classmates in the cafeteria of their Chardon, Ohio school – lobbyist Mark Glaze, the national director of MAIG, emailed Coleman staffer R. Lee Roberts and three employees in Mayor Bloomberg’s office to inform them of the news.
At 10:04 AM Bret Thompson, policy director for union-funded liberal group ProgressOhio, forwarded a link to a Huffington Post story about the shooting to Roberts, NYC “Special Counsel for Firearms Policy” Chris Kocher, Fund for a Safer Future director Lance Orchid, the executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and a fellow ProgressOhio staffer. Orchid replied that the recipients’ previously scheduled 10:30 AM conference call should focus on using the Chardon shooting to advance an anti-gun narrative in Ohio.
“I hope that we can do some rapid response,” Orchid wrote. “Perhaps this is the perfect time to push out the new microsite petition around guns on campus.”
In a separate email to Thompson, Janey Rountree, Bloomberg’s “Firearms Policy Coordinator,” wrote, “Im not necessarily opposed to trying to connect the two for messaging purposes – just want to make sure we have our facts straight. In the meantime, I totally agree that today is a good time for condolence page.”
As the groups discussed how to leverage the school shooting for a “guns on campus” campaign, the various players worked to determine if the Chardon shooting involved any illegally-obtained firearms. Rountree sent an email to Roberts, Thompson, ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg, and several others seeking “to see what we know about how Lane gun got his gun.”
About twenty minutes later, Roberts emailed Thompson and the Coalition Against Gun Violence asking for information about “where the gun came from.”
In his response, Thompson informed Roberts that he was making “a website right now for condolences and then we’re going to add a guns on campus component later this week.”
“Right with ya on condolences. Explain to me the Guns on Campus thing I need to understand it better,” Roberts replied.
The following afternoon, Chris Kocher sent an email from Bloomberg’s office outlining the response to the Chardon shootings. Kocher noted that ProgressOhio had “Created rememberingchardon.com webpage? will send email directing list to that page and ask them to offer condolences.” Kocher added, “New email acquisitions will be shared with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and a small subset of these names will be shared with OCSGV [Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence].”
“This is great, Chris,” Orchid replied.
In March, Ohio Republican blogger Nick Mascari suggested MAIG was behind the “Remembering Chardon” website, but was unable to confirm the connection. Mascari noted that he began receiving unsolicited e-mails from MAIG after leaving a comment on RememberingChardon.com.
On March 29, Roberts sent Thompson an email titled “enjoy the emails Bret,” with a link to Mascari’s post on the Buckeye Firearms Association website. As if to indicate they were off the hook, Thompson responded that Mascari “published my email a day or two ago and I got a big zero.”