Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) barred press from an event hosted by Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, where one reporter from the school’s student newspaper was asked to leave.


The event was part of a “Congressional Conversations Initiative” series that will also include Nancy Pelosi. OSU bills the series as a discussion “on improving legislative process and American governance, public policy, and public service,” but news broke on Friday afternoon that officials refused to allow a reporter from the Lantern to attend Portman’s talk.

Moritz chief communications officer Barbara Peck told BNR that the reporter, Leah McClure, whom the Lantern says is “a third-year in journalism and economics and a student,” wasn’t allowed in because she wasn’t registered.

Pelosi’s event on April 22 is open to press, and according to Peck, it was Portman’s decision to bar reporters from attending his talk, not the school’s.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten told BNR that Portman may have wanted to avoid questions about his support for policies that have helped drive students deeper into debt.

“Portman does not want to answer for his record of supporting the largest Pell Grant cut in history, proposing the elimination of the Perkins Loan program which helps students who need help the most, and voting against allowing Ohioans to refinance their student loans to get an affordable rate,” van Hoogstraten said. “It is the latest example of Senator Portman prioritizing the Washington power brokers and wealthy special interests he serves while Ohio’s students and hardworking families pay the price.”

Cook Political Report recently moved Portman’s Senate race against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) from “lean Republican” to “toss up.” The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato followed suit two weeks later, and both cited Garland obstructionism as big factors.

[NOTE: Portman’s campaign didn’t respond at press time when asked why he chose to prevent media from attending Friday’s OSU event.]

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)