A golf outing for the Lucas County Democratic Party landed in the rough after outraged elected officials saw strippers liberally volunteering at the party's annual fund-raiser.
Employees of Scarlett's Cabaret in Toledo and Club Diamonds in Oregon provided beverage services last Friday at Spuyten Duyval, a public course in Sylvania Township with a Dutch name that means "In Spite of the Devil."
Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said he witnessed one woman lift up her top and reveal her chest to a group of golfers.
She then lowered her shorts for their benefit.
"What I saw was inappropriate, offensive, and wrong," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. "I don't mean to be judgmental in what adults want to do on their own time in their own home, but what I saw did not represent the values of the Democratic Party."
Lucas County Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter said he learned from a casual conversation with one woman at the event that she worked at Club Diamonds, although he said he did not see any improper behavior.
For a party that prides itself on embracing women's issues, the mere association with strip clubs is problematic, he said.
"When the word got out that these girls are strippers, it gave the party a black eye," Mr. Quilter said. "Every elected official out there was embarrassed."
George Gerken, an attorney and retired police officer, also golfed at the event and confirmed that strip club employees worked at it.
Scarlett's and Club Diamonds are owned by J.B. Monroe Inc., a Florida modeling agency that also owns adult entertainment venues in the Sunshine State.
Ryan Kemp, a general manager for Scarlett's, said he paid for four people to golf at the outing and had club waitresses staff it.
The chairman and executive director of the Lucas County Democratic Party each claimed to have no knowledge of strip club employees at the fund-raiser, which cost $150 per golfer and drew more than 130 people.
"Well, I would think that it would be something that I would not approve of, but this is sort of a surprise to me," said party chairman John Irish. "I was there all day. And there was nothing that I was aware of that was inappropriate that happened at all."
Volunteers for the event were recruited by Jason Corder, who coordinates media for the local party, and came from internal party lists, Mr. Irish said.
Domenic Montalto, the executive director, initially pleaded ignorance.
But after learning of Mr. Kemp's comments about the strip clubs' participation, Mr. Montalto changed his answer to "No comment."
The golf outing comes at an awkward time for Democrats. Laborers' Local 500 officially kicked out two of its elected officers in May for embezzlement, after the men charged more than $21,000 worth of strip-club visits to their construction union.
And a Republican-led General Assembly recently passed a bill that requires "sexually oriented businesses" to close between midnight and 6 a.m. and bans a nude or semi-nude performer from touching any audience member who isn't an immediate family member.
The adult entertainment industry promised to fight the constitutionality of the law in court.
Chris Redfern, a state representative and chairman of Ohio Democratic Party, received an invitation to the golf outing but did not attend.
"Sometimes decisions are made that are a little bit over the top and a bit exuberant, and I'm sure that if those decisions were made within the county party's walls they would be regretted today," Mr. Redfern said.
Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez golfed at the fund-raiser. She was with a primarily female group and did not see any indecency. The presence of strippers would have been offensive to her, she said.
"As a woman, I wouldn't want those things to happen at any event," Ms. Lopez said.
Events that involve stripping are not permitted at Spuyten Duyval. Gary Shaneck, its owner, watched the entire outing and found the participants to act like respectable ladies and gentlemen.
"There were women helping them out, but they sure didn't look like strippers to me," he said.
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