Lawmaker claims extortion as GOP rival airs racy texts


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

A Republican woman running against an Ohio lawmaker with whom she exchanged sexual text messages has followed through on her threat to release more texts, even as the legislator pursues an extortion claim against her.

Nurse Jocelyn Smith, of Fairborn, vowed in April to divulge further texts if Republican Rep. Rick Perales, of Beavercreek, didn’t resign. Perales has refused to do so. He filed a criminal complaint against Smith with authorities April 3.

Still, Smith continued to release text exchanges headed into Tuesday’s primary that she says she had stored. Perales’ campaign spokesman said the lawmaker cannot authenticate the newly released texts, and it is possible they were altered.

The exchanges appear to show Perales discussing sex acts and sexual touching he wants with Smith. The sender identified as Perales indicates in one text that he’s messaging Smith from a Republican caucus meeting; on another occasion, from a formal event.

“It is easy to change a phone number on a cellphone,” said Perales spokesman Daniel Palmer.

Perales has acknowledged exchanging “flirtatious” texts with Smith for about three months in 2015. He has said their exchanges included topless photos of Smith, which she has denied. In the latest texts, the sender identified as Perales appears to be reacting to sexual photos of Smith, which she did not release.

Since making her initial allegations against Perales, Smith has further alleged Perales choked, kissed and fondled her. Perales says the claims are false.

The two first worked together when Smith came to Perales as his constituent with an idea for a license plate to raise money for cancer research. He has said he reported the relationship to then-Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and to his wife during the 2016 election cycle and has no plans to resign.

House spokesman Brad Miller said he could not immediately address whether Perales told Rosenberger in 2016 that the relationship with Smith included texts sent from caucus.

Miller noted that, whether or not Rosenberger took action against Perales, “voters are going to have a voice here shortly.”

Palmer said none of Perales’ texts to Smith were sent from caucus.

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