Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can Rush Limbaugh be jailed in Ohio?

Short answer, for those of you familiar with the developing story, appears to be No, we apparently can’t put Rush’s pilonidal cyst behind bars for recreational fun for some some Ohio criminals named “Bubba.”

Whether you are familiar or not, read on:

Truthout reports Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) is investigating GOP crossovers voting in the Ohio Democratic primary. In Ohio, doing a temporary party change for that reason (Ohio primaries are semi-closed or semi-open, depending on which way you look at it) is a criminal offense, and Rush Limbaugh (and Laura Ingraham) encouraged exactly such behavior:

While this all makes for great talk radio and sounds like fun, there is one catch: What Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party’s principles “under penalty of election falsification.”

That said, if Truthout, beyond the direct quote, is getting the gist of the law right, I don’t know that it applied to Limbaugh.

Indeed, the law applies only to individual voters:
3599.36 Election falsification.

No person, either orally or in writing, on oath lawfully administered or in a statement made under penalty of election falsification, shall knowingly state a falsehood as to a material matter relating to an election in a proceeding before a court, tribunal, or election official, or in a matter in relation to which an oath or statement under penalty of election falsification is authorized by law, including a statement required for verifying or filing any declaration of candidacy, declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, nominating petition, or other petition presented to or filed with the secretary of state, a board of elections, or any other public office for the purpose of becoming a candidate for any elective office, including the office of a political party, for the purpose of submitting a question or issue to the electors at an election, or for the purpose of forming a political party.

Whoever violates this section is guilty of election falsification, a felony of the fifth degree.

Every paper, card, or other document relating to any election matter that calls for a statement to be made under penalty of election falsification shall be accompanied by the following statement in bold face capital letters: “Whoever commits election falsification is guilty of a felony of the fifth degree.”

And, the Ohio statute on conspiracy does not cover this level of felony.

Sorry, Truthout, and other people wanting to put Rush’s pilonidal cyst behind bars for some Ohio criminals’ recreational fun, but it ain’t gonna happen.