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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Did Someone Poop In The Statehouse? An Investigation

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Tom Niehaus.
  • Tom Niehaus.

PolitiFact exists to monitor and check what politicians and public officials spew from their mouths for veracity. It's quite the nice service — ferreting out truth and lies in politics.

From campaign promises to press conference quotes to unsubstantiated assertions, PolitiFact is there to verify. And today, friends, it achieved its zenith. Why? Because their mission was to find out if someone involved in the collective bargaining protests in Columbus on February 22nd pooped in the statehouse. This is journalism at its most noble.

Grab a plastic bag and your Sherlock Holmes hat and join us in their investigation.

It began when State Senator Tom Niehaus said this: "Unfortunately, we have documented instances where people defecated in the building. We have documented instances where they have written on the walls. This is the people’s house. I used to say treat it like it’s yours. Well, I don’t want it to be like it’s theirs if that’s the way they treat their own home."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Defecation allegations? Those are serious. Not even the most hardened and angry of protesters would go all Monkey Island on the statehouse just because they disagreed with Governor Kasich and the GOP, right?

Union leaders quickly denied that any pooping incidents took place. So it was a he-said, he-said, someone-squatted without a whiff of who was correct. Until PolitiFact came to the rescue.


We asked Niehaus’ staff about the "documented instances" and were told that several were reported to the senator and that he confirmed them with Statehouse management. That management is handled by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.

We called the CSRAB, the curators of the Statehouse, for an accounting of any incidents in the building during the protest.

"There was defecation in the stairwell to the parking garage," said CSRAB spokesman Gregg Dodd, but not inside the Statehouse. Furthermore, there is no proof it was left by protesters, and Dodd expressed his doubt. He noted that CSRAB has dealt with this issue before when there are no demonstrations taking place at the Statehouse.

"Unfortunately it happens from time to time even when there are no events going on, and we think it is either a homeless person or persons, or someone waiting for the bus stop," Dodd said, explaining that this particular stairwell leads up to the street level where there are stops for the Columbus bus system.

So there you go, it was outside the Statehouse and it was probably just a homeless person. PolitiFact gives this Niehaus gem the "Pants on Fire" rating, which could have easily been amended to "Pants Full of Crap" just this one time.

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