COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Democrats sued GOP Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday to get access to schedules of his appearances that they allege could show he is misusing state time to campaign for Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.
The lawsuit came the same day Kasich appeared with Romney on a campaign swing through the battleground state.
The action filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court charges Kasich with violating state public records law by failing to produce copies of his public schedules. The schedules sought by Democrats were always for future Kasich appearances, copies of the requests show.
Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said the party's earliest request has been pending for 42 days.
Kasich's spokesman called the lawsuit political. Spokesman Rob Nichols said the office has complied with the records law and released Kasich's schedules upon request at least six times, including to the Ohio Democratic Party.
"This is predictable election-year politics from the same people who were just rebuked for using public records demands to interfere with the Auditor of State's investigation into possible data manipulation in some school districts," Nichols said.
That investigation by Auditor Dave Yost is ongoing.
In 2008, then-Gov. Ted Strickland campaigned for two Democratic presidential contenders, first Hillary Rodham Clinton and then Barack Obama, during Ohio campaign appearances. It is common for governors to appear with presidential candidates on the campaign trail and to help them raise money in the state.
Jerid Kurtz, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said the dispute is primarily over Kasich's response to the records request. He said Strickland and sitting Republicans, including Yost and Attorney General Mike DeWine, have complied with similar requests by the party.
"While past governors and current statewide officeholders campaign, they comply with the law," Kurtz said. "We've seen Gov. Kasich take questionably timed actions that seem to use his public office to attack the president and benefit Mitt Romney. Combined with the alarming lack of transparency, we'd just like to know what's going on."
After false starts backing former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kasich remained neutral in the state's Republican primaries in March. He had relationships from his congressional days with at least two other presidential hopefuls, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
He eventually endorsed Romney in April, citing his experience in the business world.
Kasich ran briefly for president himself in 2000.