Plain Dealer columnist calls out state senator for impeding public’s right to know

By Brent Larkin, Northeast Ohio Media Group Like any large group, the Ohio General Assembly is a decidedly mixed bag.

A disturbingly large number aren't very smart, but a good many are. A dozen or so qualify as truly outstanding, a credit to their profession, people who not only care about Ohio's future, but act like it.

But there can be only one who qualifies as the Worst Person in the General Assembly.

Selecting the recipient of that title is obviously a subjective thing — just one person's opinion. It's also a spinoff of a technique used on television by Keith Olbermann.

Here's my version:

The hands-down winner of my Worst Person in the General Assembly award is State Sen. Chris Widener.

A Republican from the Springfield area, Widener is the senate's president pro tem, the body's second-most-powerful position. That speaks volumes about the judgment of Republicans who run the Senate, most notably Senate President Keith Faber.

Widener is 51. He's an architect, a former three-term member of the Ohio House and now in his second and final term as senator. And he's bad news.

For more than six years, the Dayton Daily News has reported on repeated instances of Widener walking an ethical tightrope. And two years ago, The Plain Dealer reported how Widener used his power to sponsor legislation that allowed a tourism agency to give more than $400,000 to a Clark County nonprofit he helped found. That story piqued the interest of law enforcement.

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