Former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. senator from the state, was escorted out of a school board meeting Monday night after making anti-mask and anti-transgender remarks.
Mandel was ejected not for the content of his remarks but for violating the Lakota Local School District's policies regarding who can address board meetings, district officials told the Springfield News-Sun.
Mandel arrived at the meeting in the suburbs of Cincinnati with a videographer -- one violation, because he hadn't sought prior approval for that -- and board candidate Darbi Boddy, who was scheduled to speak, said she was yielding her time to him. He proceeded to denounce the district's policy of requiring students to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, saying school officials "are using kids as pawns in a political game." He also said, "On top of that, children should not be forced to learn about whether they pick a gender or not pick a gender. Boys are boys. Girls are girls."
This isn't the first time Mandel has made anti-trans comments. He's put out numerous tweets saying there are only two genders and questioning the use of gender-neutral pronouns. He's no friend to other members of the LGBTQ+ community either. In 2012, when he ran unsuccessfully against Ohio's other U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, he strongly opposed marriage equality, even though his then-wife had a cousin in a same-sex marriage. He also has made anti-Muslim remarks and defended conspiracy theorists. His campaign website portrays him as a major supporter of Donald Trump, gun rights, and "the Judeo-Christian bedrock of America," and an opponent of abortion, "the radical left," critical race theory, and "wokeism and cancel culture."
In addition to bringing his videographer, Mandel violated a Lakota policy that says only staff members, district residents, or their designees can address the board. He doesn't live in the district, and Boddy didn't properly designate him as her substitute, the News-Sun reports.
Board President Kelley Casper tried to stop him, and when he wouldn't quit speaking, called a recess, which meant the board's routine recording of the meeting ceased. Mandel's videographer continuing filming his remarks, which he posted to Twitter.
Mandel's appearance "was a staged event meant to disrupt a public meeting," Lakota spokesperson Betsy Fuller told the paper.
Mandel is seeking the Senate seat currently held by Republican Rob Portman, who is not running for reelection in 2022. Portman is considered a moderate among GOPers, and he has a gay son. Others running for the Republican nomination include J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy, and Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken. There are several contenders for the Democratic nomination as well, with the most prominent being U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan. The party primaries will be held May 3 and the general election in November of next year.