David W. Ferguson with Disgraced Speaker Cliff Rosenberger

Speaker Candidate Ryan Smith Burning Bridges with Ohio Republicans

Super PAC Challenges Franklin County GOP Grassroots

By Connor Brown


We’ve been saying it now for months, but it bears repeating again.  Ohio Speaker wannabe Ryan Smith will do anything, say anything, back anyone, and try to destroy anyone that can’t stomach his increasingly desperate efforts to become a one term Speaker.


Take the 19th Ohio House District in Franklin County for example.


Back in December, the Franklin County Republican Party began their process to endorse candidates in the primary.  In Ohio House District 19, a screening committee made up of members of the Central and Executive Committees recommended small business owner Timothy Barhorst for an endorsement.  Barhorst then won the endorsement of the full 128 member Franklin County Republican Central Committee.  Barhorst was also swiftly endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC.


In most years, the remaining candidates would endorse the winner and wait for another opportunity.  But that’s not good enough for Cliff Rosenberger and Ryan Smith because Tim Barhorst was not their favored candidate.  Instead, they backed longtime Plain Township Trustee Dave Ferguson.


The Smithberger team is backing Ferguson to the hilt, using every resource they can find, legal or otherwise.  3rd Rail Politics will lay out the facts and let you decide whether this is one of the most hypocritical, dirty campaigns ever carried out in Ohio legislative history.  

Take this for example:


David W. Ferguson is not even a registered Republican.  He voted in the primary in 2015 and 2007 and obtained an unaffiliated ballot.  As a result, he is officially listed with the Franklin County Board of Elections as an unaffiliated voter.  Before that he only voted Republican in the 2006, 2004, and 2000 primaries.




Then there is this:


Ferguson says he is running primarily because he feels that “we need more businesspeople in the Statehouse, not career politicians.”  But when you compare the bios of Ferguson and Barhorst you find that Ferguson is the only one of the candidates to have held public office.  In fact, he has been in public office now for over a decade.  


Ferguson isn’t a business owner either.  He’s worked for utility giant AEP for the last 18 years.  The only small business owner running is his opponent, Tim Barhorst.  


To help gin up support for Smithberger candidate Ferguson, OHROC sent out to GOP House Members and staff a last minute request for “volunteers” for door to door this past weekend.  Below is a pic that we obtained of that request:



We use the word “volunteer” lightly.  Statehouse sources have told us that OHROC has set a quota for these public employees for the amount of door to door that they are required to do.  As a result, Ferguson was able to draw a good crowd because his district is located here in Franklin County and staffers would not have to drive very far.



By some huge coincidence, while “volunteers” were going door to door in this district, a nasty and false attack mail piece was being dropped by Ryan Smith’s Super PAC, the Conservative Alliance PAC:



Mr. Barhorst did have a federal tax lien; at least for a couple months.  But what you aren’t being told is why. This federal tax lien was filed while Mr. Barhorst was out of town, caring for his dying father.  Once he heard about the lien he paid it off in full and the lien was released.


Then, there is the backside of this false, attack mail piece:



What you are not being told about this transaction is that he bought this condo nearly a full 11 years before he had a federal tax lien filed against him.  The condo and the lien aren’t related.

Following are links to the actual public documents:


2005 condo deed link


2016 lien link


2017 lien release


Even worse, he bought this condo in order to help facilitate a custody arrangement of his child with his former wife.  


So, knowing this information, why would Ryan Smith and Cliff Rosenberger unleash these vicious and false attacks?  Is it because of the many flaws of their own candidate?


For example:


On March 20, 2018 David W. Ferguson was criminally charged by Franklin County Animal Control for failing to keep a dangerous dog confined or restrained and failure to register a dog.  Under Ohio law a dangerous dog is a dog that has either caused injury, other than killing or serious injury to a person; killed another dog; or been the subject of a third or subsequent violation.  See the screenshot of the charges below:



Apparently Mr. Ferguson has difficulty keeping control of his animals.  In 2013, he pled guilty and paid a fine for letting an animal run at large.  Screenshot of the plea is below:



Mr. Ferguson also has a hotfoot and has had many speeding tickets.  


Then, there is the guilty plea for driving while intoxicated in Dallas, Texas.  Granted, it was in 1986 when Mr. Ferguson was 25, but it is true. And the whole glass houses thing too.


Link to DUI records.  


The fact is that if you dig deep enough and have little or no scruples about the information you use, you can make anyone look pretty darn bad.  When you combine that with hundreds of thousands of dark money Super PAC dollars and few consequences for lying, then you have dirty, despicable campaigns like this one.  


Ryan Smith will do anything, say anything, smear anyone; no matter what it takes to be Speaker.  It’s truly sad and pathetic.


Speaker Rosenberger has sought to trivialize the FBI investigation swirling around him and his cronies by saying, “Politics is a pretty dirty place right now.”  


Given all the disgusting mud being thrown at candidates like Barhorst, and the dark money financing it through mystery groups (that are not really a mystery at all), it is the height of hypocrisy for Smithberger to call other people “dirty.”