Statehouse removes Butler County lawmaker’s liquor cabinet

Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, is being accused by his GOP challenger, Courtney Combs, of turning his district office into a frat house because he had a liquor cabinet in his office. Retherford said he bought the liquor cabinet from former Rep. John Adams, who was term limited.

Retherford said it was for home use and is currently in a personal storage unit.

“It was temporarily stored in my office until I had the ability and space to move it,” said Retherford.

Brad Miller, a spokesman for Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger, said shortly after the Clarksville representative took over as the House’s top Republican, he requested Retherford remove the cabinet because he “felt it was inappropriate to have.”

The Ohio House rules prohibits the possession or consumption of alcohol in the Statehouse, Miller said, adding Retherford would not be facing any sanctions.

Retherford said he had kept two bottles of unopened wine from Hanover Winery in an attempt to have it sold at the Statehouse Museum Shop. He said he also had an unopened bottle of bourbon that was a Christmas gift given to him on his way to Columbus. He also had bottles of Hamilton water.

But Combs has questioned who actually had the cabinet removed. Combs says that Rosenberger had his staff remove it, but Retherford maintains that he “had House staff remove it.”

Combs started to call out Retherford on Twitter under the handle @CourtneyCombsOH using hashtags such as #StatehouseNotFratHouse and #GrowUp.

Retherford calls this a “pointless attack” by his opponent.

During the Dec. 1 endorsement meeting, which the Journal-News was the only media outlet that attended, a question was asked of Combs about why he was running. He said one reason was Retherford “went against” Sheriff Richard Jones and Prosecutor Mike Gmoser about supporting a drug bill that would research medical cannabis oil but also,”I’ve been told and (it’s) been verified with other people who are state reps that our state representative has had a bar set up in his office.”

Retherford said these are attempts to “distract” voters from issues, such as job creation, veterans issues, tax issues and fighting policies such as Common Core.

“I’m done talking about this,” said Retherford. “These are tactics by my opponent who has been trying to avoid about talking issues. My opponent seems to be continuously trying to avoid that conversation.”