Karen Kasler

Bureau Chief

Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan. She grew up in Lancaster, attended Otterbein College in Westerville, and found her professional break at WCBE-FM, Columbus. Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Degree Program for Mid-Career Journalists at Ohio State University in 1994. She worked at WTVN-AM and WBNS-TV, both in Columbus - then followed eight years as afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor for WTAM-AM, Cleveland. Karen followed the demolition and rebuilding of Cleveland Browns Stadium, produced award-winning series on identity theft and the Y2K panic, covered the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the blackout of 2003, and reported annually from the Cleveland National Air Show each year, often going upside down in an aerobatic plane to do it. In 1999, she was a media witness to the execution of Wilford Berry, the first execution since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and in 2002 co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, featuring her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus in 2004, Karen has covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them. She was a moderator for the gubernatorial debate in 2018 and US Senate debates in 2016, 2012, 2010 and 2006. She's also led debates on statewide issues such as drug sentencing, marijuana legalization, redistricting and the collective bargaining law known as Senate Bill 5. Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the Governor's State of the State, and has led coverage of the inaugurations of the last three governors.

She's produced features for NPR and "Marketplace", and has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, NBC and stations around the country. She's a regular panelist on ideastream's "The Sound of Ideas", a frequent guest on WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record” and has appeared on WBNS-TV's "Face the State".

Karen has been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists and holds a National Headliner Award. She's won several awards from the Ohio AP, and is a four-time winner of the AP's Best Broadcast Writing award. She's a three-time Emmy nominee for "The State of Ohio". She's a past president of the Ohio Associated Press and has served on the Board of Directors for the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Karen is also a former adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus.

Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles)

Dozens of people have been arrested and charged in connection with the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, Including four Ohioans. And two Ohio National Guard members of the more than 25,000 nationwide now in Washington DC have been sent home because of ties to far-right groups. But an Ohio Congressman with a key role in security says tomorrow’s inauguration will be safe.

Henry Locke (right, in red mask holding bullhorn) and other members of the Ohio Boogaloo spoke to reporters and those assembled for the event.
Karen Kasler

The "armed march" that was expected in all 50 state capitals and brought out heavy security resulted in just a few dozen protestors in Columbus Sunday.

A group of Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers helps with putting up fencing around the closed-off entrance to the west side of the Ohio Statehouse, where protests are often held.
Karen Kasler

Saying "violence will not be tolerated in Ohio", Gov. Mike DeWine says the Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard will back up Columbus police forces for a planned "armed march" by right-wing and pro-Trump supporters this weekend.

Medical professionals at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center were among the first in the state to get the COVID-19 vaccine last month.
Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University

The state is pushing forward with more COVID vaccinations with new age groups eligible in the next few weeks, even as some communities are saying the vaccine supply is inconsistent.

A rally opposing a so-called "Stand Your Ground" bill brought a few dozen people to the Statehouse in October 2013.
Statehouse News Bureau

The Republican lawmaker who proposed removing from state law the duty to retreat before using deadly force in a public place says he’s concerned about an armed march planned on the Statehouse this weekend.

An empty hallway at a middle school in Westerville after K-12 schools were closed in March 2020.
Karen Kasler

Ohio’s teachers and school employees are in the next group that will get the coronavirus vaccine starting February 1. And superintendents are signing pledges that they will return to either hybrid or in-person learning on March 1 as a condition of their workers getting the vaccine.

Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna Collins (left) with OAC Board Member Susan Allan Block, at an OAC awards ceremony in 2017.

A member of the board of the state agency that oversees funding for the arts has resigned after an inflammatory Facebook post in which she showed support for the insurrection at the US Capitol Wednesday and used a slur to describe Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.

Dan Konik

In 2020, Republican state lawmakers introduced and passed bills to restrict fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority in pandemic-related health orders. Four of them drafted articles of impeachment against him. All that could make the upcoming process of creating the new two-year state budget difficult.

A few hours before a mob of extremist supporters of President Trump stormed the US Capitol as Congress met to certify President-Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win on Wednesday, a couple dozen pro-Trump protestors chanted, screamed obscenities and waved Trump banners on Capitol Square in Columbus.

A sign praising staff hangs on the entrance to a nursing home in Columbus.
Karen Kasler

4,856 Ohioans in nursing homes and long term care facilities have died of COVID-19, well over half of the state’s overall COVID death total. Gov. Mike DeWine has said the virus has often been brought in by staff, and yet a huge number of those workers has not taken the vaccine.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH), in a still from a Skype interview he did with Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler for "The State of Ohio" this coming weekend.
Screenshot/"The State of Ohio"

Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman says he opposes objections to certification of the electoral college results on Wednesday, though it’s expected at least five Ohio Congressmen will object, along with many other Republicans.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor (left) administers the oath of office to new Justice Jennifer Brunner on her family's Olive Hill Farm in Columbiana County.

The Ohio Supreme Court now has three Democratic justices for the first time since 1994, with the first statewide swearing in to start the new year - the 162nd state supreme court justice.

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) talked to reporters on September 1, 2020, after returning to the House for the first time since his July arrest in a $61 million bribery scheme.
Karen Kasler

There’s a lot ahead in 2021 for Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford). The former House Speaker is facing federal charges in a $61 million bribery scandal. And he could also lose the job he was re-elected to last fall.

A year ago, 2020 looked like it was going to be another busy election year in Ohio. But with the pandemic crowding out most other news and keeping candidates off the campaign trail, the presidential election took several unexpected turns.

A pic of then-PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo speaking to "a crowd of industry stakeholders and experts at the 24th Annual Ohio Energy Management Conference", shared by the PUCO Twitter account in February 2020.

The list of possible successors to take over as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has been narrowed to four. One will succeed Sam Randazzo, who resigned last month after a federal filing from FirstEnergy noting an improper $4 million payment to an entity associated with someone who became a state regulator.

A rack of automatic handguns on display at a gun store in northwest Columbus.
Dan Konik

As state lawmakers return for a final week of their lame duck session, Gov. Mike DeWine is hinting he’ll veto a controversial gun bill they sent to him last week. And if he does reject the so-called Stand Your Ground bill, they may not be able to do anything about it.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams tweeted out this photo of him speaking with reporters on a remote conference call Saturday, after a virtual meeting with Gov. Mike DeWine.

Ohio moved past 8,000 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend. And around 4,500 Ohio health care workers and nursing home residents and staff have gotten a first dose of the vaccine to protect them from the coronavirus.

Gov. Mike DeWine congratulates the first nursing home resident who received of the COVID-19 vaccine around 7:30 Friday morning at the Crown Pointe Care Center in north Columbus.
Karen Kasler

The first COVID-19 vaccines for residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities are being shot into arms around Ohio today - the vaccine administered before sunrise at a nursing home in Columbus.

On October 1, Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus) shared this photo of her meeting with President Trump on board Air Force One when he was in Ohio for the first presidential debate on September 29.
Bernadine Kennedy Kent/Facebook

A Columbus state representative who hasn’t been to the Statehouse is more than a year and a half is suing her fellow House Democrats as well as the current and former minority leaders.

All 538 members of the Electoral College voted across the country Monday – including the 18 electors in Ohio.

The certificates of votes signed by Ohio's 18 electors in 2016.
Karen Kasler

The 538 members of the Electoral College will cast their states’ votes for president today, including the 18 electors in Ohio. With the election certified last month, the Ohio electors will again cast their votes for Donald Trump, who won the state by almost the same margin as in 2016.

A hallway at the Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient. It was one of two national hotspots in the early part of the pandemic, with a huge percentage of inmates showing positive results for coronavirus after mass testing.
Dan Konik

When Ohio gets its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, medical professionals, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and EMS workers will be first in line. But it’s unclear where those in the more controversial congregate setting of prisons might end up on the vaccine priority list.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, at a press conference in his office in February 2020.
Karen Kasler

Ohio’s Republican attorney general is joining in part of the lawsuit Texas has filed against Pennsylvania. But he's not asking for results in four battleground states that Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden won to be thrown out - which is what some Republicans were hoping for.

The "death bed", used for lethal injections, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Ron Corby

Anti-death penalty advocates are reacting to comments from Gov. Mike DeWine, who said in an Associated Press interview that lethal injection “appears to us to be impossible from a practical point of view”.

Construction on Licking Heights High School last year. That is among many school building projects funded by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, which gets money from the capital budget.
Dan Konik

Lawmakers are finally getting a look at the $2.5 billion state capital improvements budget, delayed for months by the pandemic.

A pop-up testing site on Columbus' west side on December 3, 2020
Dan Konik

Ohio has logged its highest daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, but some of that is related to a backlog of tests that the state was double checking over the last several weeks.

Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) talked about the future of the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan in an interview Tuesday for "The State of Ohio".
Dan Konik

A key Republican lawmaker says the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan that passed the House overwhelmingly is dead in the Senate. 

The House in session last month, after they voted not to require members to wear masks on the floor.
Karen Kasler

At least three state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, as the legislature has been rushing to get bills passed before the two-year session ends in a few weeks.

The Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville
Dan Konik

There have been 115 confirmed or probable COVID-19 inmate deaths and 7 staff deaths in Ohio’s prison system. The prison population has been reduced because of COVID, but advocates say the facilities are still overcrowded and dangerous. 

Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima, left) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) talked about their school funding formula in a press conference in March 2019. Cupp became speaker in July 2020.
Karen Kasler

A school funding overhaul that’s been in the works for five years passed the Ohio House by a huge margin and is on its way to the Senate. Supporters say it’s the first constitutional plan since the Ohio Supreme Court struck down school funding in 1997. But it might not get far.