GOP official quits, says move unrelated to Senate misconduct

By JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The chief of staff to Ohio Senate majority Republicans said Monday he will leave his post in a move unrelated to allegations of inappropriate conduct roiling the chamber.
The seven-year Senate veteran, Jason Mauk, told The Associated Press his last day will be Dec. 1.
GOP state Sen. Clifford Hite resigned last month after a female state employee complained Hite had engaged in inappropriate conversations and physical contact with her over a two-month period. Hite’s departure has left lingering questions of when his conduct was first identified by Senate leadership.
Then last week, Senate Democrats’ chief of staff, Michael Premo, resigned over undisclosed inappropriate behavior. The Democratic caucus has denied access to details of what happened, citing attorney-client privilege.
Mauk said Republican Senate President Larry Obhof has known of his interest to pursue new career opportunities for nearly a year. He said Obhof asked him to stay to finalize the state budget, which took longer than usual this session.
“We have been planning this for the better part of a year,” he said. “I’ve been here nearly seven years now, six as chief of staff to three Senate presidents, and that can demand a lot of your life. This is nothing more than me being ready for a new opportunity.”
Mauk said he will move to the caucus’ campaign committee initially. He also is pursuing several other positions.
Hite acknowledged his behavior was inappropriate and apologized.
Premo’s one-sentence resignation email provided no details. He didn’t return a call seeking comment the day he resigned, and the Twitter account where he was known to be outspoken appeared to have been suspended or deleted.