- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
The Butler County Democratic Party is claiming one of the candidates seeking to replace Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt, R-Liberty Twp., is unfit because he was involved in the Dynus scandal that rocked Butler County politics.
Conditt will resign her Statehouse seat on Friday.
The candidate, West Chester Twp. Trustee George Lang, was acquitted in February 2011 on a perjury charge. He had been accused of lying under oath when he testified in the trial of Orlando Carter, the former owner of the defunct telecommunications company Dynus.
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Butler County Democrats claim Lang “traded access” to local Republicans for cash to aid Dynus, which was attempting to bring fiber optics access to the county. The county Democrats also say Lang was paid a $300,000 commission “to facilitate the company’s access to key Butler County Republican elected officials” and claim Lang paid $100,000 as a “kickback” to a Dynus executive.
“George Lang’s role in the Dynus ‘pay to play’ federal corruption scandal and apparent willingness to participate in kickback schemes long demonstrated that he is unfit to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives,” said Jocelyn Bucaro, Butler County Democratic Party Executive Committee chair. “Lang’s involvement in Dynus requires both parties to again present a united and public voice and declare George Lang is unfit to serve in the Ohio House of Representative. His role in one of the biggest political corruption scandals in recent memory should be an automatic disqualifier.”
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Lang is one of seven candidates seeking to succeed Conditt, who announced her resignation last month to spend more time with family. The other six candidates are Ann Becker, Lee Wong, John Haberer and Grace Kendrick of West Chester Twp.; and Jeff Kursman and Anu Mital of Liberty Twp.
Lang said he knows his involvement with Dynus will follow his political career, but said he was proven innocent.
“The FBI spent over two years investigating Dynus, everybody involved with Dynus, and I was not charged with anything related to Dynus,” he said.
Dynus Corp. officials took out two loans totaling approximately $6.4 million in Butler County’s name without county approval. The scandal also resulted in a plea deal by former Butler County Auditor Kay Rogers. Rogers was sentenced to two years in prison for her role. .
Bucaro said she hopes Republicans will speak out against Lang’s “fitness to serve just as they did with (Ohio Rep. Wes) Retherford. To do otherwise would be inexcusably hypocritical.” Republicans and Democrats called for Retherford’s resignation after he was charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence and a weapons charge. The weapons charge was dismissed and Retherford was found guilty of the OVI charge.
Lang said he “should be proud that the liberals are attacking” him on something he’s been found not guilty of, as he was acquitted on perjury and was not indicted on any Dynus activity.
Witnesses had testified in Carter’s 2009 trial that Lang’s payment to Smith was a kickback, but Lang said on Wednesday he paid Smith, who eventually became an executive with Dynus, $100,000 for work performed as a contractor before he was employed by Dynus. Lang has said he received more than $300,000 from Dynus as he lobbied on their behalf around the country and later became an executive with the company.