Cincinnati Board of Health member Kate Schroder, who is running against Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), was allegedly involved in an “unethical” hiring scheme that led to calls from Chabot’s campaign to call on her to resign from her post.
Schroder hopes to unseat Chabot during the 2020 congressional elections. Chabot defeated Democrat Aftab Pureval by 4.4 percentage points during the 2018 midterm elections and serves as a key district for Republicans to hold if they wish to regain the House majority. Republicans need to retake a net 17 seats while holding districts such as Chabot’s to achieve a majority in the House.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) listed Schroder as one of its top recruits in its “Red to Blue” program to flip red districts in favor of the Democrats during the 2020 congressional elections.
Even though the DCCC said Schroder has a “history of service and putting people first,” she has been accused of participating in an unethical hiring scheme.
In August 2018, the Cincinnati Board of Health was sued for allegedly violating state law, city ordinance, department policy, and ethics rules by hiring one of its own members as the department finance chair. A judge ruled that the hire violated ethics rules by hiring one of its own members.
The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote in December 2019:
A Hamilton County judge ruled in September that the board violated ethics rules in hiring one of its own members as department finance director. State law, city ordinance and department policy prohibit a member of a public oversight board from a job with the agency that is overseen. The judge’s order required the department to dismiss the new hire immediately and seek repayment of salary.
The lawsuit put the city potentially on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Schroder was a member of the city board of health and was reportedly involved in the interview process for the department’s new finance chair.
“Robinson and Johnson made the cut to the final three candidates,” the Enquirer’s Anne Saker wrote. “Lichtenstein wrote a letter of recommendation for Robinson. Among the board members doing the job interview was Kate Schroder, now a candidate for Ohio’s 1st District U.S. House seat.”
Further, Schroder released an op-ed in February calling on the country to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
She wrote that “it’s not a question of whether the coronavirus (COVID-19) is coming to the United States, it’s a question of when. And we need to be ready.”
However, despite her call for the country to prepare for the coronavirus, Schroder missed a Cincinnati Board of Health meeting three days before she released her op-ed. During that February 25 meeting, Steve Feagins, the director of the Hamilton County Board of Health, delivered a presentation on the “Wuhan Novel Coronavirus Epidemic.”
As the coronavirus pandemic started ramping up, the Board of Health admitted it was running a $2.7 million deficit.
Schroder’s record at the Cincinnati Board of Health led to Chabot’s campaign to call on the Ohio Democrat to resign from her post.
Jon Conradi, the Chabot campaign spokesman, said in a statement in August:
Kate Schroder’s explanation of her involvement in an unethical hiring scheme at the Cincinnati Board of Health raise only greater questions and red flags about what she knew and when she knew it. We already knew Schroder directly participated in a hiring scheme that a Hamilton County judge ruled was unethical and which drew lawsuits at significant cost to taxpayers, now we learn that Schroder participated in the final interview and selection process, knowing it was wrong.
The records and explanation Schroder provided to the media indicate she thought the hiring was a potential ethics issue and yet she proceeded to participate in and facilitate the process anyway. If Schroder knew the hiring process was ethically questionable, that begs the question, why did she continue to facilitate the hiring process that a Hamilton County judge ruled was unethical and which drew lawsuits for corruption costing taxpayers thousands of dollars?
Chabot’s campaign even released an ad in August discussing Schroder’s record at the Cincinnati Board of Health:
“It is clear that Kate Schroder does not have the judgment to represent hardworking Ohioans in Congress nor to continue to serve on the Board of Health,” Conradi added in his statement.