Ohio Governor’s Race

I am tired of seeing all the attack ads on TV. I evaluate the race for Governor based upon something that the TV ads never talk about: the Governor’s job duties. Our Governor is responsible for appointing the Director of the Department of Insurance. While banking is controlled federally through the Federal Reserve, insurance is controlled by each state’s Department of Insurance. For an insurance company to sell insurance in a state, the company must be licensed with the Department of Insurance. Any policy an insurance company wants to sell must be approved by the Department of Insurance. In prior newsletters, we have talked about the erosion of coverage in the average person’s insurance policy. All of those eroded policies have been approved by the Department   of Insurance. Who the Governor will appoint as the Director of Ohio’s Department of Insurance is a big deal from where I sit, dealing with insurance on a daily basis. Insurance companies donate huge amounts of money to campaigns in order to have a say in choosing the Governor’s appointee. I would like to see the Governor choose a Director who cares about the citizens of Ohio as opposed to an appointee who is nothing but an insurance industry insider. 

Another important function of the Governor is to appoint a replacement for any state judgeship opening. This includes openings in Municipal Courts, Common Pleas Courts, Courts of Appeals, and the Ohio Supreme Court. These positions probably number in the thousands, and are filled solely by appointment of the Governor. Many judges get their start this way. In the past, governors assembled a commission to find and vet qualified candidates to fill the vacant judgeships. More and more often, however, governors simply hand out judgeships as political patronage; as a reward for supporting the governor’s campaign. My understanding is that, as Governor, Richard Cordray would go back to appointing judges based upon merit and ability, and not based upon how much they have done for the party.

It is interesting that both candidates for Governor have served as Attorney General in the State of Ohio. If the Attorney General’s Office was    a private law firm, it would be the largest law firm in the state, by far. The AG’s office is tasked with many duties and functions; one of which is protecting consumers. Under Richard Cordray, the Consumer Protection Bureau of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was robust. Under Mike DeWine, it has been anemic.   

I found it interesting that as the Attorney General who is charged with overseeing the legal landscape of the State of Ohio, Mike DeWine recently stated in an interview that we will “make Ohio the best place in the Midwest to start and run a business” and that we will “limit regulation that kills job creation.” In essence, Mike DeWine has stated that it is his intent to protect Ohio businesses and not protect Ohio’s individual citizens. Second, the “regulations” that he wishes to limit have already been manipulated as much as possible in order to support big business. That was all accomplished over the last few decades under the guise of “tort reform” with the intent of turning Ohio into a Utopia for big business and causing big business to set up shop in Ohio in droves. The ultimate intent has not come to fruition. There is nothing further to do through regulations to make Ohio more big business friendly short of eliminating the right to sue big business in the State of Ohio. Interestingly, the State of North Carolina, which has enjoyed much economic success over the last few decades, has been expanding regulations that protect people at the expense of big business, including the insurance industry.

At the end of the day, I have to support Richard Cordray as the candidate for the next Governor of Ohio because I believe that he will appoint a Director of Insurance who will be more concerned with the rights of Ohio’s citizens and less concerned with the political pull to be pleasing to the insurance industry’s big business lobbyists.

I believe Cordray will appoint judges using a process to find good judicial candidates as opposed to simply passing out political patronage. Finally, from an ideological standpoint, I believe Cordray cares more about individuals than he does about big business. I am certainly not against business; our law firm is a business. Ultimately, though, I don’t believe that business should take precedence over individual rights. Business doesn’t bleed, humans do.

Judges Spotlight

Our office recently tried a case in Judge Lanzinger’s court in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Lanzinger is a relatively new judge and is running for re-election. I give her credit for taking a week out of her time as well as her staff’s time to try our case. She was concerned about the facts, she was concerned about what happened, she did her homework, and she put effort, time and thought into the process. These are all things you would expect a judge to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. Some judges don’t put forth that energy. We support her in her re-election campaign and wish we had more judges that were as concerned about individuals as Judge Lanzinger.