Ohio Economic Policy Group Says It Was Targeted By Conservative Activist

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It started with a phone call about a possible research paper, says Amy Hanauer with Policy Matters Ohio.

“And the call sounded suspicious. The guy said we have a lot of money and we want to make sure the report is going to help teachers.”

Policy Matters Ohio has researched salaries and benefits of unionized public sector workers, concluding that they actually make less than their private counterparts. Hanauer says she thinks that’s why she got the call.

“I think that they were interested in the collective bargaining fight in Ohio.”

Hanauer says when she asked the caller questions, he hung up. So Hanauer started checking, and found the domain name of the caller’s e-mail address was very similar to that of the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. But the domain name was registered to Shane Cory. That’s also the name of the acting executive director of Project Veritas, the group led by James O’Keefe, a self-proclaimed investigative reporter who’s used heavily edited video in stings targeting Planned Parenthood, ACORN and NPR.

“I think that they were trying to get me to say on tape that we would do research to support a certain conclusion and I think that they hoped to get me on tape saying that and in that process to discredit collective bargaining.”

O’Keefe’s group says it believes it’s proven a connection between opponents of Issue 2 and the Economic Policy Institute, which many consider to be left-leaning. A study done for EPI concluded that public sector workers earn less than private sector workers. But O’Keefe notes that researchers at the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, which many consider conservative, say that study is flawed. Both O’Keefe’s group and Amy Hanauer say the EPI was targeted in this potential sting -- and O’Keefe has complimented Hanauer and Policy Matters Ohio for how they handled it.

“Our research is not for sale – we do really unassailable research. Nobody’s ever been able to find flaws in our methodology.”

But some people haven’t been amused by this action. O’Keefe has been blasting back at journalists following this, and some people who are peripherally involved with Policy Matters Ohio and other groups say they’re genuinely fearful of retribution.

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