Local attorney Stan Chesley, who's made millions of dollars from tort lawsuits, is known as a big cash contributor to Democratic politicians, though he's also given generously to conservative Republicans such as Phil Heimlich. His latest fund-raiser, however, is even raising some eyebrows in the GOP.
Chesley is hosting a brunch fund-raiser at his Indian Hill mansion for Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township), better known as "Mean Jean" in local political circles due to her penchant for making harsh and bizarre statements that gain her less-than-flattering headlines.
The posh fund-raiser will be held June 8 and costs $500 per person or $1,000 per couple.
Chesley is the head of the fund-raiser’s host committee and the only Democrat on it among several high-profile Republicans. Others include former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, County Recorder Rebecca Prem Groppe, County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann and Alex Triantafilou, county GOP chairman.
Schmidt is best known for a flap that occurred just weeks after first taking office in 2005. During debate on the floor of Congress, Schmidt called John Murtha, a disabled Democratic congressman and decorated former Marine, a coward for his stance on the Iraq War. The comments drew harsh criticism from other members and prompted a memorable Saturday Night Live skit where comedienne Rachel Dratch portrayed the tightly wrapped congresswoman.
Besides her infamous “coward” comment, Schmidt is known for a plagiarism controversy over a guest column she submitted to a newspaper in 2006 -- almost identical to one written by another lawmaker -- and a reprimand from the Ohio Elections Commission for falsely claiming to have a second bachelor's degree.
Chesley is no stranger to bad headlines.
As CityBeat was the first to report locally in June 2006, he's facing legal sanctions over his role in a $200 million settlement in a Kentucky case involving fen-phen. A Lexington judge handling a lawsuit filed by more than 400 of the former plaintiffs in the case is reviewing Chesley’s conduct.
Plaintiffs allege Chesley knew that the other attorneys in the fen-phen case accepted fees that violated their contract because he received $20.5 million for his role in negotiating the settlement. As Chesley’s deal called for him to get 21 percent of the three attorneys’ fees, that showed the other attorneys received nearly $100 million — half of the settlement — and exceeded what was allowed.
Chesley’s mansion was the site of frequent fund-raisers for President Bill Clinton. Clinton appointed Chesley’s wife, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott, to the federal bench.
Schmidt is facing off against Dr. Victoria Wulsin, a Democrat, for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat. The district contains the eastern parts of Cincinnati as well as suburban and rural areas in seven counties, including Hamilton, Warren and Clermont, stretching east from Cincinnati along the Ohio River.
How a person with Chesley’s background is so easily accepted among the cabal of conservatives is anyone’s guess. Like our good friend Melinda is fond of saying, “You can tell a lot about a person by the type of company they keep.”
It’s unclear whether Schmidt will discuss the GOP’s frequent proposals for tort reform at the event.
— Kevin Osborne