There is much more to the Roger Reynolds story than just that he was found guilty of a 4th-degree felony on the fifth count against him in a court case just a few weeks before Christmas 2022. That doesn’t begin to tell the story. The truth is that the corruption wasn’t what Roger Reynolds did, but it’s how the political machine works to get rid of people they don’t want in office, even after voters put them there with a popular vote, even knowing the facts. Ultimately it was the office of David Yost, the Attorney General of Ohio, who was doing a favor for a buddy in Butler County, Sheriff Jones, who personally prosecuted the case for one primary reason. Not to fight corruption but to push Roger out of his Butler County Auditor Office, likely for a few reasons that have been revealed over the last year. First, for revenge, Roger had terminated the employment of one of Sheriff Jones’ relatives who had stopped coming to work due to Covid protocols that has become a practice everywhere and is out of control. Roger did what I would have done; the employee stopped coming to work, so he let them go, and Jones wasn’t happy about it. The other thing was that as Butler County Auditor, Roger Reynolds had been pushing for complete transparency in the disclosure of budgets. And that made a lot of people mad. That set the table; then Fox 19 news came to Butler County and did a hit piece in the Republican stronghold, trying to pave the way for Democrats to do better in an upcoming election. Hence, they targeted a complaint leveled at Roger by a property owner that dragged a couple of Butler County Trustees into the mess to attempt to shape public opinion with a negative story.
Sheriff Jones then used that story to launch an investigation into his political enemies, leading to a six-count indictment against Roger Reynolds over an abuse of power case involved in that land deal. But just before this case was set to go to court in August of 2022, there was an additional charge that the Sheriff’s department leveled at Roger. They wanted Roger to step down from his auditor role and put Bruce Jones there instead, the fiscal officer of West Chester. And when Roger refused because he felt he had done nothing wrong, they turned up the heat, and David Yost got involved himself in the campaign to remove Roger from his job. It all amounted to a human resource scam between competing factions of employees who were trying to bend the rules to their advantage to get rid of a rival, in essence. I know all the characters involved and generally like them. But like most companies, employees don’t always get along; that was certainly the case here. But instead of human resources, these matters end up in court in front of a jury. In August, after Jenni Logan, the treasurer of Lakota schools, stepped down, obviously knowing that a lot was about to hit the fan over the Matt Miller case, she spilled the beans on a Lakota issue with Roger from back in 2019. Some tax money was returning to Lakota, and Roger suggested that the money be spent in a partnership with Four Bridges Country Club’s golf academy. Jenni checked it out, and the lawyers said it would look bad. So, they didn’t make a deal. And for just asking the question of Jenni Logan, that was the 4th-degree felony that the jury found Roger Reynolds guilty of, which wasn’t even the original charge. It was a fishing expedition to keep throwing charges at Roger Reynolds until something stuck. And keep in mind that these are all the same characters who decided not to prosecute Matt Miller, the superintendent of Lakota schools, for the revelations that he had sexual fantasies about three specific kids who went to Lakota and that he asked his wife to drug them, molest them, and video record it for him, according to police testimony. So, in that case, the police used the rationale that the well-liked superintendent was participating in consensual adult sex, even though minors who went to a school he had the authority over were involved. But all those same people found Roger Reynolds asking Lakota to invest in a golf academy which he thought would give kids an elevated social experience, was a felony. Not exactly a consistent presumption of the law. It involved all the same characters, but the standards were radically different regarding law and its enforcement.
By the time Roger won his re-election in November, the court case had been moved to December simply as a backstop in case they needed it to get Roger out of office. And by then, the indictments against Roger had been reduced to just five instead of the original seven. Roger’s lawyers did an excellent job procedurally; it’s not easy doing these kinds of things; there’s a lot that goes on in the filing process. And to get the charges reduced by the start of the trial was a considerable obstacle which they did well. Then regarding the original case, Roger was found innocent by the jury on all those accounts. The accusations made by Channel 19 at the beginning have cost Roger Reynolds many thousands and thousands of dollars in legal bills just for the accusation. But the additional charge involving Jenni Logan after she left Lakota and was in new positions directly involving Butler County and a relationship with Sheriff Jones facilitated was one that the legal team of Roger was much less prepared for because it came late in the process. It was harder to argue due to the ambiguity of the matter. Here was a bunch of political people in the six-figure income club talking about giving millions of dollars to a country club to contribute to a golf academy to which Roger belonged to. I cringed as I watched Roger’s lawyers try to argue these merits to the jury. You could tell that the legal team did not have their mind wrapped around that part of the case, and the jury could tell. In the end, Roger’s attorney didn’t explain it well; his task was to overcome the built-in prejudice that people have toward rich people and elite sports, and they didn’t do that.
After an entire day of deliberation, the jury found Roger guilty on that last charge, essentially for asking a question that had the look of using his political authority to show an interest in a public contract. Jail time had been a real risk all through this process which is no easy thing to deal with, especially for a good person like Roger Reynolds, who has been a respected member of the community for many decades. And it looks like just over this 4th-degree felony conviction, he won’t have to do any jail time but will serve out the sentence with probation. But the bad guys got what they wanted, Roger will have to step down from his elected position, and the people who were afraid of transparency will now be able to appoint their choice rather than the voters picking. And that is what this case was about from the start, getting rid of Roger Reynolds from his auditor job. If Roger is guilty of anything, it’s setting the bar too high, that his political rivals didn’t want to live up to that high bar, so they conspired to get rid of him, which they did through the court process. And if Roger’s lawyers had been able to argue the Lakota case correctly, he would have been found innocent on all counts. The critical thing to remember is that the original case that Sheriff Jones tried to build against Roger fell apart, and Roger was found innocent of all those counts. The real corruption is in using the legal system to destroy political rivals and in choosing enforceable or not laws depending on the people involved. With Roger’s talent, I’m sure he can make three times the money he was making as an auditor in the private sector. But it’s the point of the matter, he has had to deal with this expensive nonsense for a long time, and the abuse of authority isn’t in what he did. But instead, what was done to him to get rid of him and to fight to keep that bar very low for public employees so that they can have plenty of wiggle room for the real corruption that takes place.