Update: Ginther Golfgate
Note: During the summer of 2020, with the COVID pandemic and George Floyd riots raging on, The Sussi Report received a disturbing tip about our city's Mayor. According to the tipster, on many afternoons, Mayor Andy Ginther and a member of his Protection Detail could be found teeing it up at the Ohio State University Golf Club. The tip turned out to be good, and because of my investigation, the Columbus Division of Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) launched an investigation in March of 2021. The following month,
IAB finished its investigation and concluded what The Sussi Report first reported. 1) Columbus Division of Police Officer Marty Jaeger golfed with Mayor Ginther – a lot – while on the clock. 2) Officer Jaeger often received overtime pay for golfing with Mayor Ginther. IAB forwarded its report to the Special Operations Subdivision Chain of Command for review and disposition. Well, ten months later, not a peep from the Chain of Command. IAB's report, according to sources, is collecting dust on Chief Elaine Bryant's desk. The Sussi Report contacted the Division's Public Information Officer for an update but haven't heard a word. Also disturbing is that the Ohio Inspector General did not investigate the public official behind this flagrant abuse of office and taxpayer dollars: Mayor Andy Ginther. The latter resigned from the Ohio State University Golf Club in January 2021 and is now a member at York Golf Club.
The Sussi Report isn't the only one wondering why Columbus Division of Police brass has failed to respond to the Internal Affairs Bureau's investigation into Officer Marty Jaeger. Deputy Chief Ken Kuebler has expressed his frustrations through emails and Intra-Divisional reports, some of which we obtained copies of through a Public Records request.
On May 18, 2021, Deputy Chief Kuebler sent this email to former Interim Chief Michael Woods and former Acting Chief Richard Bash.
Chief Woods and Acting Chief Bash,
As you are aware, I forwarded letters of information on April 16, 2020, April 28, 2020, and April 29, 2020, regarding allegations of misconduct by members of the Mayor's Security Unit. My letters raised important concerns of possible Fair Labor Standards Act violations, inadequate mechanisms to provide for accountability of personnel assigned to the unit, and other concerns, including the use of body cameras by unit personnel. To date, I have not received a response to these letters. However, on May 17, 2021, Deputy Director Craig Stone expressed via email a "warning" to Executive Staff that we are "expected to hold their personnel accountable."
The lack of response to my previously forwarded letters is directly at odds with this warning from Deputy Director Stone. In fact, my previously forwarded letters of information specifically referenced comments made by Mayor Ginther in which he alleges that the personnel assigned to his unit are administratively controlled by you and the Special Operations Subdivision chain of command. This allegation is refuted by the facts of the investigation and by the unit's SOP. Regardless, I have submitted substantive and reasonable corrective actions to fix this lack of accountability. In the absence of a response, neither I nor anyone in the Special Operations Subdivision chain of command can be held accountable for the very serious concerns raised by the allegations, the investigation's findings, and my letters of recommendation.
On April 27, 2021, Deputy Chief Kuebler sent this email to Deputy Chief Tim Becker.
Acting Chief Becker,
I sent a letter to the Director through Chief Woods ten days ago seeking input and clarification on an HR overtime/FLSA issue uncovered during this investigation. To date, I have not received a response on that. For this story, the Mayor responded, "Detective Jaeger does not report to Mayor Ginther. The Mayor does not set his schedule nor approve timesheets. All of that is handled by Detective Jaeger's chain of command." I will not be taking the fall for this, and I will not be standing idly by while those in my chain of command are passively made the fall guys for this. I need an answer regarding the issues I raised in my letter, and I need someone to approve or deny the recommendations I made. Unless I receive direction otherwise, effective at noon on Wednesday, April 28, I will issue an order to Commander Sagle to deny any and all future overtime for the Mayor's security detail, will issue an order prohibiting members of the detail from golfing in any duty capacity, and I will order the chain of command to investigate the incidents of golfing while "off duty" and ensure that overtime for those incidents is properly paid.
On April 29, 2021, Deputy Chief Kuebler emailed this four-page report – recommendations for the Mayor's Protection Detail - to former Interim Chief Woods.
Security Unit personnel are prohibited from participating in recreational, fitness, or exercise activities while on duty, overtime, or off-duty capacity. This includes golf. If the recommendation is dismissed, Deputy Chief Kuebler wrote that Security Unit personnel "should be required to meet physical fitness standards as developed by Department of Public Safety HR personnel to ensure that unit members are capable of this work and fit enough to reduce the likelihood of expensive on-duty injuries."
Security Unit personnel cannot be scheduled for non-emergency overtime without the approval of a Commander or higher Division of Police supervisor.
Security Unit personnel provides daily activity reports through Chain of Command for review. Reports will include times and locations of activities and note pre-approved and emergency overtime.
Out-of-state travel requests for Security Unit personnel submitted in writing to Chain of Command.
Security Unit personnel serve no longer than five-year terms with a three-year break between each period.
Security Unit personnel wear body-worn cameras.
On May 27, 2021, former Interim Chief Woods sent Deputy Chief Kuebler this email.
Ken, please have Sgt. Bruce begin the review/amendment of the Mayor's Security Detail SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). Include a new section on Wearing/Use of BWC (Body Worn Cameras) in the proposed revisions. The current unit members should be included in this process to develop new policy."
To date, the Chain of Command has not weighed in on Deputy Chief Kuebler's recommendations or responded to IAB's report.
The Sussi Report learned that between April 1, 2016, and October 1, 2020, Mayor Ginther teed it up 222 times at the Ohio State University Golf Club. Officer Jaeger joined his boss on the links 166 times. During that same period, we discovered through a Public Records request that Mayor Ginther had 154 separate charges at the MacKenzie Pub. It’s a place where members can grab a quick sandwich and beer.
We’re not sure if Mayor Ginther purchased booze on those days, but on at least one occasion during our surveillance during the summer of 2020, we spotted the mayor sipping a cold one in a golf cart.
In his interview with IAB, Officer Jaeger said, "I never felt like I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing with him (Mayor Andy Ginther). It didn't always feel right, being a police officer, it's just how it was."
Officer Jaeger has been with the Mayor's Protection Detail since April of 2007. He told IAB that he paid for his own membership at the Ohio State University Golf Club.
Mayor Ginther refused to be interviewed for IAB's investigation.