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Published: 7/20/2011

Dems cite Kasich ties to Murdoch

Party to ask governor to give Fox pay to charity

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS -- It didn't take long for the Ohio Democratic Party to see a fund-raising opportunity in GOP Gov. John Kasich's connections to scandal-plagued Rupert Murdoch.

Tuesday, the News Corp. chairman and chief executive faced questioning before the British Parliament in connection with the phone-hacking and bribery allegations that brought down his lucrative tabloid newspaper in London and killed his hopes to acquire fellow media giant, British Sky Broadcasting.

At about the same time, Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern sent a fund-raising email seeking "small dollar" contributions from supporters to cancel out the financial help that Mr. Kasich has received from "multimillionaire friends like Rupert Murdoch."

Mr. Kasich worked for News Corp.'s Fox News Channel, once hosting his own weekend political program, From the Heartland. As a candidate last year and sitting governor this year, he's been a frequent guest on the network, and Mr. Murdoch personally contributed $10,000 to his gubernatorial campaign in May, 2010.

"I wish it weren't true," Mr. Redfern wrote. "I wish that Ohio did not have a governor who was so closely tied to the slimeballs at News Corp. who engaged in despicable practices. I wish our governor didn't have such a close relationship with a man who makes a fortune off of lying to the American people."

Mr. Redfern said he plans to ask Mr. Kasich to donate his $265,000 Fox salary from 2008 and the $10,000 his 2010 campaign received from Mr. Murdoch to charity, as well as $1 million the corporation gave to the Republican Governors Association that bankrolled ads supporting his election.

"We'll go ahead and say it," Mr. Redfern wrote. "No public official in America has benefited more personally and politically from News Corp. than John Kasich."

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols characterized Mr. Redfern's comments as "more ankle biting from the politically impotent." He said there's been no discussion of returning or redirecting the money.

So far, the scandal and criminal charges associated with the phone-hacking and bribery of law enforcement officials by the tabloid News of the World have been confined across the pond in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Murdoch voluntarily chose to shutter the successful tabloid after it was revealed the paper had hacked the cell phone accounts of the families of Sept. 11, 2001, attack victims and a murdered schoolgirl in search of news stories.

The financial fallout, however, has not. Although it rebounded somewhat Tuesday following Mr. Murdoch's appearance before Parliament, the value of News Corp. stock has dropped out of concern over where the investigations may lead. In addition to its Fox holdings, News Corp. owns the Wall Street Journal.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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