Mayor Worked With Bloomberg, ProgressOhio to Stop Kasich From Signing Gun Rights Bill
With help from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s staff and liberal activists, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s office attempted to stop Ohio Governor John Kasich from signing a 2011 gun rights bill. The anti-Second Amendment groups targeted Kasich after failing to prevent the legislation’s passage in the Ohio General Assembly, public records show.
Media Trackers has previously reported on the work of Coleman staffer R. Lee Roberts, the Ohio Coordinator for Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Emails obtained by Media Trackers prove that last year Roberts worked with far-left activist group ProgressOhio and Bloomberg “Firearms Policy Coordinator” Janey Rountree to block Ohio Senate Bill 17 (SB 17) and a corresponding House measure allowing law-abiding Ohioans to carry firearms in more public places.
Mayor Coleman’s spokesman Dan Williamson helped Roberts with messaging. When Roberts suggested Coleman highlight an April 2011 shooting in the parking lot of a Columbus bar, Williamson warned, “that would draw attention to the fact that people already take guns to bars, and that this law will have no real effect on that.”
“Touche,” Roberts replied.
Weeks later, Roberts emailed Rountree a link to a ProgressOhio petition opposing the bill. He opined that if SB 17 passed, “we should shift our focus to Kasich. I’ve heard from a few folks he really doesn’t want to sign this, so I feel pretty strongly that if this would pass we flood his office with calls as soon as it is voted on to start making him feel the heat a bit.”
After the Ohio House passed its version of the bill, Roberts drafted a statement for Mayor Coleman and sent it to Williamson. The statement read, in part, “It is a shame that the House of Representatives ignored the concerns of law enforcement, the restaurant industry and 80% of Ohioans who believe that guns and alcohol are a toxic mix. I [sic] light of this bills [sic] passage I strongly urge Governor Kasich to veto this irresponsible piece of legislation once it reaches his desk.”
Several days later, ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg cautioned Roberts that “a loud directed approach at the Governer [sic], if Kasich behind the scenes is squeamish and trying to stall things — could hasten it.”
Emails make it clear MAIG and ProgressOhio worked hand-in-glove, discussing strategy and developing campaign materials. “Bret [Thompson of ProgressOhio] should definitely do the outreach since this isn’t a MAIG issue,” Rountree wrote in one May 10 email.
In mid-May, Rountree introduced Huffington Post columnist and MAIG media consultant Cliff Schecter into the deliberations on how to block SB 17. Schecter agreed with Rothenberg, adding, “Everyone seems to be of the mind (and Hallett covered it in that great piece this weekend) that Kasich is really a suburban Republican at heart, which is to say more socially liberal and on this issue a supporter of gun control as he was in Congress.”
Joe Hallett is a left-leaning news reporter and opinion columnist for The Columbus Dispatch.
Schecter continued, “If anything, with what a hothead [Kasich] is, I’d love to remind him daily of the fact that the NRA opposed his election (as did Buckeye Firearms), and find as many obnoxious things about him as possible that they and others like them might have said.”
As MAIG and ProgressOhio began to get the impression Kasich would sign the bill, Rountree suggested they should make Kasich “pay a price” by “putting some public pressure on him.” Schecter agreed that the liberal activists working in Mayor Coleman’s office, Mayor Bloomberg’s office, and at union-funded ProgressOhio should “kick his arse.”
Planning for the next fight against the Second Amendment, Roberts replied, “Might also be Worth [sic] considering doing a campaign aimed at dewine [sic] to re assess out of state ccw permits when the inevitable happens.”
In an email sent only to Roberts, Rountree asked, “if [Kasich] seems like he’s leaning towards signing it, why is ProgressOhio stepping off? Don’t they want to make his decision harder?”
Roberts reminded Rountree of Rothenberg’s concerns that “if they attack kasich too hard he’ll make the bill a priority out of spite,” noting that he disagreed with ProgressOhio’s assessment.
As a last-ditch effort, Roberts offered to ask Mayor Coleman to call Kasich about the bill. Roberts added the disclaimer that Coleman “thinks he is ‘unhinged’ but I know they have talked recently enough.”
After Kasich signed SB 17 into law, Coleman spokesman Dan Williamson – part of the MAIG lobbying which he denied took place in a May 2012 interview – blamed Coleman’s failure to limit Second Amendment rights on a lack of “any success lobbying the legislature,” noting that “they’re more receptive to the other side.”