If Republican Speaker of the House Bill Batchelder learned how to use a computer perhaps he could fact check himself before he makes ridiculous and untruthful claims like this one.
Absent a dramatic reversal, the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel will be classified a budget loser once lawmakers finalize the state's two-year spending plan in the coming weeks.
Republican Gov. John Kasich and Republican lawmakers have taken direct aim at the office, which is charged with protecting Ohio consumers in utility cases.
The GOP-controlled House of Representatives supported Kasich's proposal to cut 51 percent of the agency's funding and added provisions to muzzle the office on issues related to natural gas markets and to eliminate the counsel's call center, a repository for consumer complaints.
National consumer groups sharply criticized the proposals, claiming they would prevent the office from fulfilling its mission.
House Speaker William G. Batchelder, a Republican from Medina, was asked recently about the proposed cuts.
Batchelder, echoing similar reasoning from Kasich, said the cuts are justified because the agency is overstaffed and because it plays a role similar to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Supporters of the consumers' counsel say the office plays a watchdog role separate from the PUCO, which decides whether to approve rate increases the utilities propose.
"There are 74, I believe, attorneys in that office," Batchelder said on the Ohio News Network's "Capitol Square" on May 29. "Is that duplicative? Is it wasteful? And I think since the legislature was busy with an axe on everything else, it makes it pretty hard to sell having the duplication or having 74 lawyers. I don't know how many the attorney general has."
. . . "We currently have 12 attorneys on staff assigned to case work and two vacancies. In addition to the 12 staff attorneys, the Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander and the Deputy Consumers' Counsel Bruce Weston are also attorneys," OCC spokeswoman Beth Gianforcaro wrote in an e-mail.
. . . PolitiFact Ohio has noted before that as speaker, Batchelder is one of the most influential politicians in the state and Ohioans listen to what he says. In this case, he made the claim on a television broadcast on a statewide news network.
And in this case his statement is not just inaccurate, but also makes a ridiculous claim.
When that happens, the Truth-O-Meter points to one rating: Pants on Fire.
Read more fact checking of Ohio Politicians at PolitiFact Ohio