Athens News: David Pepper will serve justice, not ideology (Endorsement)

We enthusiastically endorse David Pepper as Ohio Attorney General in the Nov. 4 election. Pepper is a smart and energetic candidate of integrity who will upgrade an office that’s been vulnerable to special interests and political influence under incumbent Mike DeWine.

A Yale-educated lawyer, Pepper has served on Cincinnati City Council and the Hamilton County Commission. While in those offices, he partnered with local law enforcement to successfully fight crime.

As the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio stated in its endorsement of Pepper, as a Cincinnati City Council member, he “worked hand-in-hand with police… Pepper added police to the streets, passed new laws to crack down on crime, and helped lead negotiations” on an agreement that helped heal the deep rifts between law enforcement and community.

Pepper has smart and workable ideas for ramping up and fine-tuning the campaign against Ohio’s growing heroin and prescription pill crisis, protecting young people from online predators, and pushing efforts to discourage and penalize sexual assault.

Mike DeWine, meanwhile, is well known to Ohioans, for his nearly 34 years in office, including two terms as a U.S. Senator.

As Ohio’s Attorney General, DeWine has too often let his conservative ideology veer him away from serving the moderate political values of the great majority of Ohio voters.

On the hot-button issues of gay marriage and abortion, DeWine has gotten involved in national battles with little connection to his job description in Ohio.

In a statement in June, Pepper correctly blasted DeWine for getting actively involved in the divisive Hobby Lobby case: “Ohioans deserve to know that Mike DeWine led the charge nationally, using his public office and taxpayer dollars to wage a three-year ideological crusade. He has entered courts across the country to stop birth control coverage and even authored the amicus brief on behalf of numerous attorneys general at the Supreme Court to support Hobby Lobby. This case was all about Washington, D.C. politics and the Tea Party agenda, and DeWine advocated against Ohio’s women every step of the way.”

DeWine, a foe of gay marriage, also has made it clear that he will continue to actively fight any efforts to roll back Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage. In July, he asked a federal appeals court to overturn an earlier ruling in favor of several gay couples who had challenged the Ohio ban successfully.

While DeWine argued that he was just asking the court to comply with the majority of Ohioans who voted in 2004 to prohibit gay marriage, his energy and alacrity in pursuing this course ignores the significant shift in public opinion toward tolerance of gay marriage in the past decade.

DeWine also has received justified criticism for participating in the “pay to play” culture in Columbus, for awarding valuable special-counsel contracts to people and firms who contributed substantial amounts of money to his political campaign and the Ohio Republican Party.

Ohio needs an Attorney General who will run a professional office without being susceptible to political influence or prone to distracting ideological adventures. David Pepper’s record suggests he will be that sort of AG. Vote for David Pepper for Ohio Attorney General.