COLUMBUS – In honor of Throwback Thursday, David Pepper’s campaign released the following statement regarding DeWine’s history of losing major voting rights cases in Ohio. Most recently, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against DeWine’s crusade to eliminate Golden Week, which the court found had a “disproportionate impact” on African-American voters.

Peter Koltak, Pepper’s Communications Director, made the following statement:

“No matter how clearly unconstitutional the scheme, Mike DeWine has always enthusiastically defended voter suppression, and each time federal courts have smacked him down. The Attorney General’s first oath is to the U.S. Constitution, yet DeWine has never once stood up for Ohioans’ constitutionally protected right to vote.”

Pepper has pledged to create a Voting Rights Unit in his office. The unit will provide proactive legal advice to the legislature and other officials before they pass or enact unconstitutional laws, and steer them away from unconstitutional schemes before costly, losing lawsuits.


DeWine supported scheme that had a “disproportionate impact on African-American voters.” In NAACP v. Husted, the U.S. Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court’s ruling that the elimination of Golden Week, in which voters can register and vote at the same time, had an unconstitutional impact on African-American voters. The court ordered the state to restore early voting during Golden Week. [Gongwer, 9/24/14]

DeWine advocated for the selective elimination of early voting – DeWine defended reducing early voting hours for some Ohioans in the final three days before the election, potentially affecting upwards of 95,000 voters. DeWine lost before the trial court, announced his appeal the same afternoon, then lost on appeal. In a total rejection of DeWine’s position, the trial judge said that the law “may not…value one person’s vote over that of another.” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/31/12]. The Supreme Court rejected DeWine’s request to hear a final appeal. [New York Times, 10/16/12]

DeWine fought to disenfranchise voters who were victims of poll worker error – DeWine aggressively attempted to disqualify Ohio voters who voted in the correct poll location but the wrong precinct even when the only reason they voted at the wrong precinct was due to poll worker error. DeWine’s position was so outrageous that even Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State would not join him on appeal. The 6th Circuit unsurprisingly rejected his arguments. [Toledo Blade, 10/12/12]

DeWine fought to limit ballot access by keeping third parties off the ballot – DeWine vigorously defended a Republican law that created unfair requirements for third parties to qualify for the ballot. A federal judge suspended the law, saying Republicans had “moved the proverbial goalposts in the midst of the game” and that the law was “patently unfair.” DeWine filed for expedited appeal to the 6th Circuit. [The Plain Dealer, 1/7/14]. A Plain Dealer editorial called the law “deplorable” and “grossly unconstitutional,” and called the decision a “welcome judicial rebuke.” [The Plain Dealer, 1/11/14]


COLUMBUS – Today, Jay McDonald, President of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, made the following statement in support of David Pepper’s plan, “Protecting Ohio’s Children,” that the Pepper campaign released Tuesday morning. The plan has previously been endorsed by the Ohio Education Association.

Pepper’s plan specifically calls for an increase in funding for school resource and drug prevention officers to help keep kids from ever starting down the path towards drug abuse.

McDonald made the following statement supporting Pepper’s plan to expand funding for officers in schools:

“In the midst of Ohio’s heroin crisis, cuts to officers in schools have put our children at risk. Pepper’s plan will equip schools to guide our kids towards the responsible decision to never start using drugs at all.”

Over the last three years, the Attorney General’s Office has reduced the number of school resource and D.A.R.E officers funded by grants from the office from 302 for 2012/2013 to 228 for 2014/2015.



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign reported fundraising totals for the August Monthly Contribution Report. The report shows that Pepper continues to outraise previous successful challengers to sitting attorneys general.

Pepper raised $350,603.64 for the period and has $2,145,082.89 cash on hand. Pepper has raised $2,829,728.87 from 4,455 individual contributors since launching his campaign, a record for a challenger to a sitting attorney general.

“With nearly 4,500 contributors, our fundraising strength continues to show bipartisan desire for change in the Attorney General’s Office,” said Brad Pyle, Pepper Campaign Manager. “Ohioans want to clean up the office and are looking for real leadership on the challenges, like the heroin crisis, that Ohio faces.”



An ‘F’ for Effort

Friends –

It’s become all too clear that Ohio’s charter school system is badly broken. Too many charter schools are failing their students.  Other schools are closing. Millions of dollars are lost or missing.  There’s even one chain of schools that has been caught falsifying scores and data, and potentially endangering kids.

All the more reason we need an Attorney General dedicated to bringing transparency and accountability to this system. A watchdog for taxpayers, parents and students.

Which is why yesterday’s report by the Associated Press was so alarming.

The AP uncovered that in potentially the most important case involving the operation of charter schools in years, with millions of dollars at stake, the Attorney General simply abandoned Ohio’s taxpayers, students and families…not to mention his own office’s previous position.

Amid a lot of details, the case asks a simple question: who owns the property and assets in Ohio’s charter schools?  The public and the school itself, or the private charter school operator who lands the contract to operate the school? The question is critical for many reasons. But especially when schools fail as often as they are today, if the answer is that the private operator gains possession of those public assets, the state and its public education system lose millions.

No shock, White Hat Management, a for-profit charter school operator founded by major GOP donor David Brennan, has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to allow it to keep the property and equipment purchased with taxpayer funds.

Where is the Attorney General?

Two years ago, his office filed a brief stating that White Hat’s argument violated Ohio law, was “bad public policy,” and put tax dollars at risk.


Don’t be. Because when the case hit the Ohio Supreme Court a few months back, DeWine and those arguments were nowhere to be found. As the AP revealed yesterday, the office failed to file a brief at all, after DeWine made the decision to drop out. At its most important moment, DeWine abandoned the case and Ohio taxpayers altogether, with no credible explanation for the about-face.

Remember, this is an office that has vigorously appealed every losing voter suppression and marriage equality case, and even filed briefs with the US Supreme Court on behalf of out-of-state corporations like Hobby Lobby….but for no good reason, can’t even follow through on its own arguments on behalf of the Ohio taxpayer.

Of course, the AP also pointed out that Brennan and his various organizations have contributed tens of thousands of dollars in recent years to DeWine’s and various party campaign accounts.

You can reach your own conclusions for what might have motivated DeWine’s unprecedented abandonment of the public interest at crunch time.

Bottom line: Ohio stands to lose millions. A major DeWine and Party donor stands to gain millions in tax payer dollars, and a broken system continues unabated.

Let’s clean up this mess.


The High Cost of Pay to Play

Friends –

Since the Dayton Daily News exposed rampant pay-to-play in the handing out of collections work a few weeks back, the Attorney General’s Office has been desperately defending what are clear misdeeds. As the Toledo Blade said, their practices do not pass the “smell test.”

Their latest? Proclaiming that their deeply tainted process is justified by “record” revenue from collections. Never mind that even stellar results would not justify rigging bids to enrich friends, here are the facts.

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1. 2001-2011: GROWTH EVERY YEAR: From 2001 to 2011, collections revenue rose each and every year…like clockwork, through recessions and growth years. To use the Attorney General’s current spin, every year was a “record,” and each of the past four Attorneys General—two from each party—set “records” every year they were in office.

2. 2011-2012: PAY TO PLAY: The 2011 “record” year was the final year of the group of firms that Richard Cordray had used to do collections. In mid-2011 and 2012, AG DeWine replaced some of the experienced firms that helped set that record with his new set of firms, doing so through the deeply tainted process uncovered by the Dayton Daily News. This included replacing very successful firms with a new group, including one firm that a DeWine donor created just two days before the 2012 bid went out.

3. 2012: DECLINE: After these changes, collections fell in 2012. This was the first year collections went down in more than a decade. DeWine became the first Attorney General in the past five to suffer a down year.

4. 2013: DECLINE: Collections fell further in 2013. This marked only the second time in 40 years that collections fell for two straight years.

5. LOSING $100M+: These losses cost taxpayers and state agencies an enormous amount of funds. Collections grew from 2001 to 2011 at an annual rate of 13.8%. If revenues had simply continued at that pace in 2012 and 2013, Ohio would have collected $200M more in revenues than the depressed numbers generated by DeWine’s handpicked firms. Even if 2014 collections ultimately rise again (hopefully some of the new firms are finally learning how to get the job done!), that increase will never make up for the dollars lost from two straight years of declines in 2012 and 2013.


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Collection Revenues of 2001-2013

The Cost of Pay to Play

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The Cost of Pay to Play

Make no mistake, the greatest cost of pay to play is that it damages the credibility of the Attorney General to do the job. But also be clear: the pay to play in the collections area has cost the state a whopping amount of revenues.

Let’s clean up the mess.


Exhibit C

Two days.

In April 2012, two days before the announcement of a public bid to do collections work for the Attorney General’s Office, a long-time friend and supporter of Mike DeWine filed the articles of incorporation of a new company called CELCO, Ltd.


Only a month later, this brand new company would celebrate an enormous victory…it secured a highly lucrative opportunity of doing collections work for the Attorney General’s Office.

Despite having no clients, no financials, scant collection experience, no licenses to conduct collections, and almost no staff, CELCO pulled off the upset of the century…beating out some of the best firms from around the country with decades of experience.

What explains this underdog victory?  A few bidding documents tell the story.

Under the “contractor profile” component of the scoring—supposed to reflect ”[Attorney General/government] experience, number of years of operation, public debt collection experience”—CELCO managed to score a “23”—later bumped to a “24”—out of 25 points, even though it had exactly none of those attributes and, according to the scorer, “no accounts at the time.”

Under the “management summary” element of the scoring—reflecting a “summary of management experience and resources”—CELCO managed to score a “19” out of “20”—even though “the overall years of collection experience was limited.”

And when its score of “94” wasn’t quite good enough, incredibly, someone from the Attorney General’s Office scribbled it out and replaced it with a “95.”  And presto, by that single point margin, this brand new company won the bid over companies with decades of experience and strong track records.

Folks, this is what a rigged bid looks like.  And this is how a major donor and close friend of Attorney General DeWine—having formed his company only two days before the bid was announced— won a contract he had no business winning.

Let’s clean this mess up.



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign announced that it has accepted several invitations for debates between Pepper and Mike DeWine this year. In May, Pepper called for at least five debates to be held in different areas of the state.  Pepper has accepted three invitations and expects to accept at least two more.

To date, the DeWine campaign has refused to discuss debates, despite multiple private attempts to find a mutually agreeable time to enter into debate negotiations.

Peter Koltak, Pepper’s Communications Director, made the following statement:

“Ohioans deserve to see David Pepper and Mike DeWine stand side-by-side to debate important issues like the heroin crisis and the culture of pay-to-play corruption in the AG’s office. Further delays and dodges won’t cut it. It’s time for DeWine to commit to real debates.”

Pepper has accepted invitations to the following debates so far:

  • Cleveland: Hosted by the City Club of Cleveland
  • Cincinnati: Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cincinnati
  • Sandusky: Hosted by the Sandusky Register and BGSU Firelands




COLUMBUS – Today, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio endorsed David Pepper for Ohio Attorney General. Pepper, a former Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati City Councilman, has a long record of working with local law enforcement to improve public safety and crack down on violent crime in the communities he has served.

Jay McDonald, President of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio made the following statement:

“David Pepper is tough, smart, and independent.  He has vast experience partnering with law enforcement to fight crime. We know Pepper is the best choice to keep Ohioans safe as our next attorney general.”

Pepper was first elected to Cincinnati City Council in 2001 amid a crime wave and shortly after rioting and a major breakdown in police-community relations. Pepper worked hand-in-hand with police as the chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee. Pepper added police to the streets, passed new laws to crack down on crime, and helped lead negotiations for the historic Collaborative Agreement, which healed police-community relations, enhanced training, and improved police morale.

As a Hamilton County Commissioner, Pepper fought equally hard to improve safety – including working across party lines to create Project Disarm. The program put away some of the county’s most violent offenders for violations of federal gun laws.

Pepper was also a vocal advocate against Senate Bill 5, and he has spoken out against Local Government Fund cuts that dramatically undermined public safety across Ohio.

Pepper thanked the members of the Fraternal Order of Police for their endorsement:

“Ohio can’t expect to solve issues like the heroin crisis unless law enforcement has a true partner in the Attorney General’s Office. I’m proud to receive this endorsement, and I look forward to working with police officers and sheriff’s deputies to keep Ohio families and their communities safe.”

Pepper has released plans to combat heroin, tackle violence against women, and to rebuild partnerships between the Attorney General and law enforcement agencies around the state. Pepper’s plan calls for new partnerships between state and local crime labs, improving shared analysis of crime data, and expanding access to training that is relevant to the issues officers are facing. Pepper will also fight to protect law enforcement funding and collective bargaining rights.


Read Pepper’s full plan:



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign responded to yet another false excuse being made by Attorney General Mike DeWine about his growing pay-to-play and bid rigging scandal.

On Sunday, the Dayton Daily News revealed that a 2012 collections bid process was rigged to favor CELCO, a company formed two days prior to the bid process being announced. CELCO beat out numerous highly experienced vendors to do collections work for the Attorney General’s Office. The investigation found that CELCO’s score sheet had been altered. Its initial score was crossed out and revised upward to allow it to win the bid. CELCO’s founder is a major GOP donor who met with DeWine numerous times prior to the bid.

Confronted with the altered score sheet, DeWine’s official spokesman claimed it was simply the notes of a single staff member, and not a score sheet that determined the outcome.

Documents obtained of all the score sheets and an official tally of those score sheets show that this claim is flatly untrue (see attached).

As these documents show, the handwritten score sheets of every firm seeking collection work in 2012 all displayed a numeric score at the bottom. The numbers from the sheets correspond precisely with the numbers used on the formal tally sheet, where every bidder with a “96” or higher secured Attorney General work, and where CELCO’s “95”—switched from its original “94”—allowed it to secure work, above all other firms ranked “95” or below. Handwritten score sheets were the basis of the ultimate ranking.

Peter Koltak, Pepper’s Communications Director made the following statement:

“There is overwhelming evidence that Mike DeWine has run a corrupt bidding process, despite his spokesman’s attempts to mislead Ohioans. David Pepper will reform this process, so that we never again see official score sheets altered to award contracts to big donors.”

Click here to see score sheets for all vendors, including rigged sheet for DeWine donor CELCO


COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign responded to misleading comments by Mike DeWine’s official spokesman regarding DeWine’s growing pay-to-play scandal. DeWine’s spokesman claimed the office does not take campaign contributions into account when considering bids for contracts, saying:

“We don’t call the Republican Party and say, ‘Hey, we’re looking at hiring this person. Did they donate to you?’

But documents show that DeWine’s 2010 campaign fundraiser, David Myhal, met with DeWine in his office to discuss debt collections work on more than one occasion. Myhal continued to fundraise for DeWine after the 2010 campaign.

The Daily News also revealed that while 2012 collections bids were being considered, DeWine met with Myhal and reviewed lists of vendors for debt collections contracts. Myhal also hosted at least one fundraiser for DeWine during an open bid window.

Peter Koltak, Pepper Communications Director, made the following statement.

“DeWine’s staff didn’t need to call the Ohio GOP to check donation records because Mike DeWine’s chief fundraiser sat with DeWine in his office and discussed bidders for state contracts. It’s not a coincidence that those who are giving DeWine and the GOP the most money are making the most money off of DeWine’s pay-to-play operation.”

A major investigation by the Dayton Daily News revealed that Mike DeWine and the Ohio GOP received $1.38 million in donations from attorneys and vendors doing debt collection work for the Attorney General’s Office. Many of those donations were given during the bidding window or immediately before or after.


To read more about this meeting, click here. 

To read more about this meeting, click here.