COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign responded to a new ad from the DeWine campaign attacking Pepper for past budget cuts made while Pepper was a Hamilton County Commissioner. The cuts were required after a period of fiscal mismanagement by prior commissioners, including DeWine’s son, Pat. Pat DeWine helped defeat a bipartisan plan that could have avoided the cuts Mike DeWine is now attacking.
Peter Koltak, Pepper’s Communications Director, made the following statement:
“Newspapers across Ohio have caught DeWine rewarding his donors with big contracts, so now he’s desperately attacking Pepper’s widely-praised record of fiscal management during tough times. Ironically, DeWine is blaming Pepper for the direct results of Pat DeWine’s reckless management of Hamilton County’s finances.”
FACT: The Fraternal Order of Police, Troopers for a Safer Ohio, and the Toledo Police Command Officers Association endorsed Pepper for Attorney General. This is the first time in memory that the FOP has endorsed the challenger to a sitting attorney general. Law enforcement leaders have cited Pepper’s plan to tackle the heroin crisis and his leadership in improving Cincinnati’s public safety and police-community relations as reasons for supporting him.
FACT: Pat DeWine depleted Hamilton County’s reserve fund and created a public safety budget crisis with a wasteful jail rental agreement. DeWine entered into an overly expensive and wasteful agreement to rent jail space from Butler County that cost up to $6 million per year. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/8/07). The agreement required Hamilton County to pay for 400 beds per night, even if they weren’t being used, and drained the county reserve fund to pay for it.
FACT: Pepper helped craft a bipartisan plan to avoid public safety cuts in Hamilton County. The plan, Issue 27, would have ended jail overcrowding, saved sheriff’s deputies’ jobs, and replenished the county reserve fund. It was endorsed by both the Hamilton County Republican and Democratic Parties, a bipartisan group of county officials, the Republican county sheriff, local business leaders, and the Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 5/31/07). Pepper was praised for his political courage and leadership for trying to avoid the cuts (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/3/2007).
FACT: Pat DeWine mislead Hamilton County voters about the effect of public safety cuts. DeWine claimed public safety cuts could be avoided without passing Issue 27. When it failed, Hamilton County’s budget was unable to sustain its prior spending. To save money, Pepper ended DeWine’s irresponsible Butler County arrangement. A year later, as the recession took hold and with the reserve fund still drained, the county also cancelled an agreement with the Corrections Corporation of America leasing a facility called Queensgate—a 100-year old warehouse that was originally intended as temporary housing for overflow inmates. Layoffs of sheriff’s deputies accompanied that decision.
FACT: Pepper stopped a Pat DeWine plan to cut even more sheriff’s deputies. In 2009, DeWine attempted to cut $668,000 in funding for the Hamilton County Sheriff that had been set aside to save jobs in the department. DeWine also attempted to institute yet another wasteful jail rental agreement (Cincinnati Enquirer, 12/23/08). Pepper blocked DeWine’s plan and saved the jobs.
FACT: Under Pepper’s leadership, Hamilton County won 19 national awards for outstanding management practices. The National Association of Counties recognized Hamilton County for its commitment to good government, transparency, and sound fiscal management. As a commissioner, Pepper was so frugal, he even took turns staffing the commission office’s front desk after that full-time position was eliminated (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/10/09). Moody’s praised his fiscally responsible policies.