Ohio Gov. John Kasich
The (Canton) Repository/Scott Heckel Enlarge
The initial plan had been for reporters to carry into the briefing pens, notebooks, and audio recorders to be used only to verify the accuracy of quotes.
"This was never designed to be a press conference,'' he said. "Reporters raised concerns. We heard their concerns and agreed with them.''
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said the Republican governor had an odd way of marking Sunshine Week in Ohio.
"By restricting media access at the unveiling of his state budget, John Kasich is denying the public insight into what is perhaps the most important legislation he will support over the next four years,'' he said before Mr. Kasich's office lifted the restrictions.
"It's a remarkable condemnation of the public's right to know," Mr. Redfern said.
This marks the second time that Mr. Kasich has backed off on restrictions on the press since he took office a little more than two months ago. Initially, the governor had planned to hold his true swearing-in ceremony, which took place shortly after midnight on Jan. 10, in his private Westerville home and to bar all press from attending and marking the historic moment that became governor.
Following a media backlash, he changed the location of the swearing in to the Ohio Senate chambers and invited the press to watch.
Mr. Nichols said comparisons to the original inaugural blackout would not be fair.
"[The budget briefing] was open to the press,'' he said. "Everything was on the record. Everything was for attribution. It just wasn't for cameras and radio. It was just a chance for reporters to ask in-depth questions and to have those questions answered by the parties who put this budget together.''
After the two-hour briefing with reporters Tuesday, Mr. Kasich will hold a ticket-only town hall meeting that would be broadcast on television and streamed over the Internet. Mr. Nichols said the restrictions on the afternoon briefing were not meant to preserve the broadcast thunder for the later event.
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