Democrats, Republicans Use Actor To Inadvertently Dramatize the Wrong Point

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After Ohio Republicans committed a party foul in a gubernatorial attack ad, Democrats responded with their own ethical lapse.

In early October, an ad for gubernatorial candidate John Kasich featured a man, supposedly an unemployed steel worker, standing in an darkened, empty factory, blaming governor Ted Strickland for 400,000 lost steel jobs.

Democrats quickly leaned the man was no hard hat, but Chip Redden, an actor from Cincinnati, whose credits include a SafeAuto commercial and a turn as an extra on Lost. (At least he was an Ohioan.)

“‘Pathetic’ jumps to my mind, that [Kasich] has to get actors to play middle-class steelworkers,” says Dennis Brommer, Sub-District 2 Director of the United Steelworkers union, which backs Strickland. “He could easily have found them in Lorain, where there are hundreds of real unemployed steelworkers—or just about anywhere in Northeast Ohio.”

The donkey party responded to Kasich’s ad with “Are You Kidding Me?,” a web ad that used exposed the fabrication by juxtaposing the Kasich ad with clips of Redden from other roles, including “Roaming,” a 2010 indie short film by produced Arginate Studios, a Columbus company.

“No permission to use the clips was asked for or granted by the filmmakers or other responsible, legally permitted parties,” Arginate spokesperson Dawn Thornton said in a statement, which blasted the unauthorized quote as a “lack of respect and egregious violation of their hard work and professionalism.”

Arginate CEO Jeff Robeano told Scene he was plenty peeved, but undecided whether the company would pursue legal action. He said the Democrats never contacted Arginate, and he hadn’t contacted them, though he’d requested video-hosting sites Vimeo and YouTube pull the counter-ads. YouTube briefly yanked it, but reposted it the next day.

Robeano said he objects to “the general principle of the art being appropriated for a purpose for which it was never intended. We have no political affiliations as a studio, and we appreciate healthy political debate. We don't see the use of our clips as necessary for that debate.” — D.X. Ferris

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