Ohio GOP Chair DeWine insults, slurs mental health professionals

No one gets away with dissing social workers and me not blogging about it. Thank you, Modern Esquire, for the heads up.  The fact that I’m also a lawyer and an elected official just further incenses me over this incident that exposes enormous ignorance on the part of the Ohio Republican Party Chair, Kevin DeWine.

According to an item by Bill Hershey (one of my all-time favorite Ohio newspeople), DeWine appears to harbor unpacked anger toward people in the mental health professions who are also lawyers and elected Franklin County judges, though not actually social workers, even though he seems to think they are, and African-American and female and under 50:

Ohio Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine doesn’t think much of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s expected choice for his lieutenant governor running mate.

Strickland is expected to name Yvette McGee Brown, a former Columbus judge and currently president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

“He’s had nearly a year to make this selection, and the best he could come up with in the face of an unprecedented fiscal emergency is a social worker with no experience in public finance or state government,” DeWine said in an e-mail. [emphasis added]

After reviewing numerous items about Brown (see more below), the one thing it appears that she is not is a social worker. That aside, DeWine shows an utter absence of understanding when it comes to what social workers do day in and day out: deal with unprecedented emergencies, fiscal and otherwise – their own, and that of their agencies and their clients. It’s their raison d’être.  And if they can’t resolve the emergencies, they lose their job and sometimes their licenses.

DeWine just lobbed a misguided, uninformed attempt at an insult at a still unofficial target that ends up backfiring all over the people Ohioans depend upon far more than the head of a state political party.

There’s nothing that takes the sting out of an insult more quickly than realizing that it doesn’t even apply to the person against whom you’re lobbing it.

For those who haven’t clicked to read about her yet, here’s OSU‘s description of her as commencement speaker:

A 1985 graduate of Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, McGee Brown has had a distinguished career focused on improving the lives of young people. As president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, she leads an effort that serves as a national model created to break the cycle of child abuse and family violence.

A collaboration between Nationwide Children’s and the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, the center brings together police, prosecutors, child welfare social workers, prevention specialists, domestic violence advocates, and Nationwide Children’s medical and therapeutic staff. The center provides assessment, treatment, prevention, training, education, and advocacy. As president of the center, she is responsible for the child abuse and behavioral health services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Prior to her current role, she served as a judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court from 1993 to 2002. She was the first African-American and the second woman to be elected to this court. As judge, she founded programs that continue to assist area young people today: SMART, a truancy and educational neglect prevention program, and the Family Drug Court.

McGee Brown is a native of Columbus and a graduate of Columbus City Schools. She earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio University and her J.D. from The Ohio State University.

If anything, this candidate is over-qualified to be Lieutenant Governor.  You wonder why she hasn’t run for Governor, or when, after being LG, she will.

I LOVE this choice, love it love it love it and cannot wait to hear more, learn more and maybe even meet McGree Brown – who also doesn’t hyphenate those two names.  Now I’ll just be disappointed if it’s not her. Did I mention that she was the first African-American female on the Franklin County (Columbus) Court of Common Pleas?  Inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame?


Diss social workers, try to make it an insult and a slur to be one – who aren’t even social workers? Whatev.

9 thoughts on “Ohio GOP Chair DeWine insults, slurs mental health professionals

  1. Daniel,

    I am sooooooo late to this thread. I wish I would have seen it earlier.

    You did an excellent job describing the job of a social worker. As a social worker I was taught our job was to help the person in their environment.

    I must tell you that many social workers would consider themselves “community organizers” only they would not use the same definition you had. They would “drum up grassroots support” to solve a problem identified by the community, it would not be a pre-selected cause.

    Social workers practice on three levels. I practice on the micro level as an addiction counselor. Community organizers would practice on the mezzo level. Social workers like Senator Barbara A. Mikulski work at the macro level.

    I believe your right. DeWine clumsily tried to tie McGree Brown to a political term that is not well defined. To do this he envoked the name of a profession that has helped people for over a hundred years. Regardless of their political affiliation.

  2. Jill,
    It would be sad and disappointing if DeWine thought that he was able to reduce voter preference for the governor by suggesting the governor needed counseling. Many, many fine executives in many walks of life perform way above expectations and also, by the by, they availa themselves of behavioral health services to obtain counseling. The fact that one receives counseling should in no way disqualify one from a particular jon=b or office. In fact, being able to identify a need for counseling services and following through to obtain them might actually rightly be considered a reason for voters to prefer one candidate over antoher. However, I agree with Daniel that there are substantive policy reasons to vote for a Republican contender assuming the Republicans do not find a reincarnation of Spirew Agnew or any other member of such strange flora and fauna.

  3. Daniel you crack me up. 🙂 I’m glad we agree on a lot of this one. Here’s my only quibble:

    You wrote:

    “Community organizer (oversimplified description): drum up grassroots support for pre-selected causes, and if grassroots support isn’t sufficient to sustain the cause, resort to astro-turfing”

    That’s really unfair and I am just knowing you know that. Come on. 🙂

  4. Thank you Michael for commenting. I really appreciate the thoughts and that you used your name. It is a really unfortunate thing and apparently not a mistake since DeWine AGAIN maligned social work by suggesting that Strickland needs her to counsel him. Just wrong wrong wrong, IMO. Very tacky.

  5. Pingback: Ohio GOP chair DeWine continues to mock social work, mental health treatment : Writes Like She Talks

  6. By the way, in addition to the fact that Brown is not a social worker, I also agree that a social worker could easily qualify to be a governor. Our government was not intended by our founders to be in any way aristocratic.

  7. I think Kevin DeWine did himself a disservice. Usually when mud is slung, it is used as a distraction because candidates can’t gain traction on the issues.

    Strickland can be faulted on issue after issue after issue. There’s no reason I can think of for trying to distract voters from the issues. Even if Mr. DeWine enjoys politics when they get dirty, and doesn’t mind slinging mud, (much like Chris Redfern, in that regard) he still has no excuse for resorting to it in such a target-rich environment on so many issues that truly matter. Kasich, for his part, hasn’t engaged in distraction. He’s vigorously attacking Strickland’s public policy shortcomings and gaining electoral traction, so I don’t know who or what signaled DeWine to start the mudthrowing.

    And for the jab against social workers, we saw the same confusion on this topic during the Obama campaign when his prior work as a community organizer was brought to the forefront. At that time, a number of lefty bloggers were guilty of trying to confuse the issue by suggesting that the work of a community organizer is synonymous with the work of a social worker. The two do not equate, and I even blogged about it. I thought that those to the right of center had it figured out just what a community organizer was and just what a social worker was, even if some on the left couldn’t tell the difference. DeWine is apparently confused about what a social worker is, so I guess I was mistaken (sadly so). Was he not paying attention in 2008?

    Social worker: applies knowledge of sociology and psychology to assist individuals in terms accomplishing one or more of the following (not an exhaustive list): 1) connecting an individuals needs with a method or provider to meet those needs; 2) advising and therapeutic counseling; 3) facilitating rehabilitation for those with disorders or disabilities; 4) following up with individuals to monitor compliance with instructions issued by doctors, therapists, and/or courts; 5) administering relief in times of personal crisis; and 6) being a friend and advocate for those who lack allies.

    Community organizer (oversimplified description): drum up grassroots support for pre-selected causes, and if grassroots support isn’t sufficient to sustain the cause, resort to astro-turfing

  8. As a 50 year old white, middle class, lifelong Republican, I want to say that DeWine’s comment is reprehensible. First there is no need to dsiparage the sitting governor, nor his political allies and supporters just because one may disagree with his policies. Secondly, there is no right or reason to disparage a whole profession in the attempt to disparage the Governor’s allies. Thirdly, there is no excuse for being misinformed about the potential liuetenant gubernatorial candidate’s qualifications. It bepeaks an unseemly rush to Twitter and Facebook. Finally, I can not but suspect that the remark is opportune in its suggestiveness and divisiveness. Well, Kevin, I think we are going to lose the election because the last thing most voters want to elect is another middle aged white guy who has spent his career parked on his keister in swivel chairs in elected or business offices.

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