The newest member of the Ohio State Board of trustees received a slap on the wrist for his role in a controversial case involving Gov. John Kasich’s gubernatorial election in 2014.
Zeiger and his firm, Zeiger, Tigges & Little, were sanctioned and fined $1,500 Tuesday for their connection and conduct when serving two subpoenas to the Libertarian party lawyers representing Charlie Earl, a 2014 Libertarian candidate. The fine will cover the legal costs associated with fighting the subpoenas.
Zeiger, who was appointed to the Board last month by Kasich, represented a defendant, Gregory Felsoci, a former Ohio Elections Chief, who was brought to court by the Ohio Libertarian Party.
The $1,500 fine imposed stems from a case in which the Libertarian Party unsuccessfully brought a lawsuit to Felsoci in 2014, claiming that he was selectively enforcing election laws in an attempt to get Earl off the ballot.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Terence Kemp wrote in his order leveling the sanctions and fine that Zeiger’s decision to serve the subpoenas had less to do with obtaining the documents in question and more to do with “attempting to badger or intimidate the plaintiff’s counsel.”
He added that the two counsels’ relationship was “toxic” and that the conduct between them was “unhealthy and unprofessional in nature.”
In the order handed down by Kemp on Tuesday, he asserted that Zeiger’s firm purposefully delayed the Libertarians’ efforts to make their case and obstructed their search for documented evidence as to who was paying the plaintiff’s legal fees.
As it turns out, Zeiger’s firm was paid $300,000 by the Ohio Republican Party to cover the legal fees associated with the case only after Kasich won re-election. Earl’s candidacy was viewed as a roadblock to Kasich’s clear path to another term as Ohio’s governor.
“From the outset, plaintiffs suspected — rightly, as it turned out — that there was some connection between Mr. Felsoci’s protest and persons who were interested in the success of Republican Party candidates (particularly Governor John Kasich) in the 2014 general election,” Kemp wrote in the order.
Zeiger’s firm was hired to represent the plaintiff by Terry Casey, a republican consultant who organized for the firm to be paid by the Ohio Republican Party. Casey used to work under Kasich and is a prominent GOP operative.
Zeiger’s nine-year board term officially began on May 15. He is one of the 11 current Board members selected by Kasich and is one of 15 board members in total with voting privileges.
A request for comment from Zeiger’s law firm was not immediately responded to by the time of publication.