UPDATE AT THE END: Clueless Republicans Still Cracking Sex-in-Workplace Jokes-- THEIR Workplace
Huffman, Seitz Cross Lines
By Connor Brown
Surrounded by the usual suspects of lobbyists and campaign contributors, Ohio Republican leaders gathered at the exclusive, newly-renovated Athletic Club of Columbus just down the street from the State Capital building for a closed-door "roast" of outgoing Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger's chief of staff Mike Dittoe, as he departs state service to run a congressional campaign. While flattery and lame humor were the order of the evening, sources report the running theme of the jokes was... what else? Legislator sexual harassment and disrespect of women!
With an open bar of whiskey, vodka, gin, beer and wine (thanks OHROC!), the jokes from the podium were at times offensive and especially distasteful toward women.
Even with awareness at all-time highs, these out of touch white dudes think sexual harassment in their very own workplace is a punchline. Hey Speaker- may need to do another round of HR training!
3rd Rail was not invited, but was given a sampling.
Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) played emcee and regaled the group about how a female candidate requesting support "was actually a real Cee U Next Tuesday." Get it?? Hahahaha. Good one Matt! Sexist much? Huffman also took a potshot at Rep. Marlene Anielski, joking that she was "very unpopular." One may have thought we were past the point of judging women based on "popularity." Sorry Marlene, guess Matt is not going to ask you to Homecoming this year! He's going with the cool kids.
But the worst was yet to come. Representative William Seitz (R-Cincinnati) called out former Rep. Diana Fessler, calling her a nutjob who "wore a tin foil hat." More demeaning still, he compared her to his current Southwest Ohio colleague Rep. Candice Keller.
Saving the best for last, he imagined certain legislators doing their work "set to music." Former Senator Cliff Hite, who as first reported by 3rd Rail was drummed out of office for disturbing allegations of harassing a female statehouse staffer, could have Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It on," Seitz joked. "Or better yet," he added, "The Answer is Blowing in the Wind."
Not content to just smack one chamber, he added a similar off-color double entendre to describe the song for former Rep. Wes Goodman. [Not suitable for print].
3rd Rail is told the crowd seemed a little stunned by the sheer tone deafness of it all-- but women in attendance such as Governor Kasich's Chief of Staff Beth Hansen, State Senator Stephanie Kunze, and Rep. Theresa Gavarone did not seem to react.
Surprising no one, Speaker Rosenberger sat in the front row mucking it up, presumably perfectly happy to leave the cleaning up of the House's culture to the next guy. (Or God forbid, woman).
Sadly, this towel-snapping fratboy routine serves as a reminder that no matter what they might say publicly, Republican political leadership remains far too comfortable with an immature and damaging culture of sexual double standards, objectification, and hostile work environments. Last night, they let the veil slip and it was not pretty.
PS- We understand several speakers wove in references to 3rd Rail. Thanks for reading!
3rd Rail Exclusive: Huffman on “C U Next Tuesday” Comment
By Cyndy Rees
Nearly two weeks after 3rd Rail reported on some outlandish comments made by Representative Bill Seitz and Senator Matt Huffman at a farewell Roast for former House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe at the Athletic Club of Columbus, and after both gentlemen have apologized, we are now hearing a defense of sorts.
Lobbyist Jeff Jacobson has written 3rdRail in defense of Senator Huffman, saying that our source at the Roast actually misheard or even lied about the now infamous C U Next Tuesday “joke” Huffman made at the microphone that night. No dispute about the use of the term, but rather the context.
[Huffman] was talking about how when he was just starting out, Batchelder put him in charge of OHROC and he and Mike went out recruiting and how it wasn't easy.
He told the story of how they were in one town trying to recruit a female candidate and before she showed up they were talking with a few of the locals about her. Then he said, "Do you remember what the one guy said about her? Well, if you don't, I'll see you next Tuesday."
3rd Rail’s original story cited a source that reported “Huffman regaled the group about how a female candidate requesting support ‘was actually a real Cee U Next Tuesday’."
If we understand Jeff correctly, his memory is that Senator Huffman himself did not refer to the potential female candidate in this vulgar way; he was only reminding Dittoe and sharing with the assembled group that someone else did.
3rd Rail reached out to Senator Huffman and Dittoe directly to ask their memory of the story. Huffman said he did not have any notes from that evening that might serve as a corroborating transcript, but both he and Dittoe reiterated basically the same version of the story that Jacobson told. That is, it was someone else who did the original c***-calling, and Huffman only re-told the anecdote to the group.
Asked why he waited so long to correct the record, Huffman explained, “I have been involved in congressional redistricting almost non-stop and just [yesterday] we sent it out of committee. I have something drafted and I wanted to send to my local paper. I called Mike Dittoe to clarify that is what I said and he agreed... If it isn't in the Lima News or the Wall Street Journal I generally don't have time to read it, but when it appeared in my local newspaper I thought I would clarify it.”
Readers can decide for themselves whether this information changes their opinion of the event.
As we have shown time and time again, 3rd Rail is happy to correct and supplement the record as sources on and off the record provide new information. One need not even threaten litigation.