Thank You

Dear Friends –

I wanted to say a final word of thanks.

When we entered this race, we knew we were taking on the best known name in Ohio politics, and we knew he would be well-funded. But I felt compelled to jump in because of the many important issues at stake.

It was a hard fought campaign, and while I’m disappointed by the outcome, I’m proud of the race we ran. I’m proud that we’ve been able to lead a substantive statewide conversation on topics like how to best keep Ohioans safe, beat back Ohio’s growing heroin epidemic, take on violence against women, and clean up government so it works for all Ohioans, just to name a few.

And people noticed. Newspapers and pundits across Ohio widely acknowledged that we ran one of the most aggressive campaigns of the 2014 cycle.

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Together, we built this campaign with the help of over 5,500 individual donors and set fundraising records for a challenger to a sitting attorney general.

We also set a record of a different kind when the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio endorsed us. This was the first time in memory that the Ohio FOP endorsed the challenger to a sitting attorney general, and it was incredibly meaningful to have the support of law enforcement across Ohio for our campaign.

And despite the tough odds and climate, and millions spent attacking us, we garnered the second most votes on the Democratic ticket.

Campaigns are about far more than any one candidate, so I want to say thank you to you, our supporters and hard-working volunteers who helped us along the way. We built an incredible network of friends across the state and country who fueled this campaign from start to finish.

As we move into November and the Holiday Season approaches, I’ll be enjoying some much needed time with Alana and Jack.

Thank you for your support, and please know that despite yesterday’s outcome, I’ll never stop fighting to build a better Ohio for all of us.

I wish you and your families the very best.  Stay in touch!

Thanks again,

David

From the Desk of Pres. Bill Clinton: I Urge You to Vote for David Pepper

Friends – 

I’m writing to urge you to support David Pepper to be Ohio’s Attorney General, your state’s top lawyer. As a former Attorney General, I know just how important the job is to keeping your state safe and protecting your rights and economic well-being.

David has already delivered impressive results in Cincinnati and Hamilton County as a city councilman and county commissioner. He led initiatives that improved safety while healing the relationship between the police and community, and he pushed for job creation and economic growth that helped spur a renaissance in Cincinnati. 

David has also laid out an impressive agenda for what he’d do as Ohio’s Attorney General. He has a comprehensive plan to battle the heroin crisis that focuses on prevention, treatment, and enforcement. David has also pledged to protect voting rights, make preventing violence against women a priority, fight for economic security for middle class families, and clean up government.

Ohio needs David in this job. Tuesday, November 4th is Election Day, and I urge you to vote for David Pepper. 

Thank you,

Bill Clinton

Plain Dealer: David Pepper talks about his vision for Ohio Attorney General’s Office, tells tales of a young Vladimir Putin: Q&A

By Henry J. Gomez, Northeast Ohio Media Group

Email the author | Follow on Twitter

on October 16, 2014 at 2:30 PM, updated October 16, 2014 at 3:50 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Few politicians work harder than David Pepper.

The former Cincinnati city councilman and Hamilton County commissioner never really left the campaign trail after his failed bid for state auditor four years ago.

He’s been to chicken dinner after chicken dinner. Cranked out policy statement after policy statement. Launched Twitter barrage after Twitter barrage.

Despite all of this shoe leather and social media warfare, Pepper might also be the biggest underdog on the Democratic ticket this fall. He faces Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose name has been on statewide ballots for decades.

One thing is certain: DeWine and his Republican allies treat Pepper as if he’s a much greater threat than their internal poll numbers would have you believe. DeWine recently hit the airwaves with an ad that asserts Pepper is unqualified to be attorney general. Pepper, 43, has succeeded in getting under DeWine’s skin.

The Northeast Ohio Media Group recently interviewed DeWine and Pepper, concluding a series of Q&A features with the candidates for down-ballot state offices.

You can find our conversation with DeWine here and our conversation with Pepper below. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

NEOMG: After running for auditor four years ago and getting your name out there, what made the attorney general’s race the one you went for this time?

DP: Truthfully, the last time there already was an attorney general for the Democrats [then-incumbent Richard Cordray, who lost to DeWine]. The governor [fellow Democrat Ted Strickland] had asked me to consider running for auditor.

If you look at my record – my time in office fighting for public safety and improved police-community relations, my time as a lawyer since 1999 – despite what Mr. DeWine’s ads say, I have a good, long record as a lawyer. If you add it all up, my background, my experience and my passion are very much aligned with what a good 21st century attorney general should be doing and should be focused on. My experience and my interests are much more aligned with the office.

NEOMG: You crossed paths with Vladimir Putin back during your days working for a Washington think tank’s outpost in St. Petersburg, Russia. What were your impressions of the future Russian president?

DP: I worked in St. Petersburg between ’93 and ’96. This was a very different era in us Russia relations. Vladimir Putin, he was the vice mayor for St Petersburg.

We met with him all the time. I thought to myself: How’d this man become vice mayor anyway? He never said a word. The mayor was gregarious and gave toasts all the time. Putin was deadly serious, not at all friendly.

He would be the last I would have picked to be a forward-looking leader.

Writer’s note: In a 2006 interview, Pepper spoke of Putin more fondly.

NEOMG: What courtroom experience do you have?

DP: I’ve been in court a number of times. I’ve been a lawyer since 1999. My first job was clerking for a federal court – the 6th circuit court, a place where DeWine struggled to win any major case. I have been in court in person and on briefs and motions many times. I’m not a trial attorney. I don’t hold myself out as one.

But I’ve been involved in major cases, commercial cases, voting rights cases.

It’s ironic that a guy who wasn’t even able to practice law between 1996 and 2007 would challenge my legal credentials. I would argue my legal experience is far more relevant and current than Mike DeWine, who was a prosecutor back in the ’70s.

Writer’s note: This is a somewhat misleading line from Pepper. As NEOMG has reported, DeWine had an inactive law license from September 1997 to April 2007, but not because he did anything wrong. He was serving in the U.S. Senate for much of that period. Lawyers in Ohio are permitted to register their licenses as inactive.

NEOMG: What’s the top item on your agenda if you win in November?

DP: The near-term crisis item is clearly the heroin crisis. I think the state has failed to respond in a serious way to what is an enormous crisis. Mike DeWine’s approach is a lot of talk but very little action. We’ve laid out a plan – very robust, very broad.

The heroin crisis is, sadly, a classic case study of what happens when politicians respond to public health crises without a comprehensive approach. There was a crackdown on prescription drugs, but there wasn’t a corresponding focus on the treatment needs of all those who were addicted.

DeWine had a lot of press conferences when he cracked down on pill mills. But he didn’t even declare a crisis on heroin until [November] 2013.

NEOMG: You have been critical of how DeWine handles the testing of rape evidence kits, something many see as a positive for him. What would you do differently?

DP: What I would do is be a lot less patient with the current pace.

I give Mike DeWine credit. But especially since its obvious there are hits being made, when you know there are thousands of these kits all over the state and there are thousands now at the Attorney General’s Office just sitting there, to me it commands a much more impatient, rapid approach than we’re seeing today.

I think there are clear ways to speed this up. When DeWine first got there, he sent evidence to local labs to be tested. I don’t see why you wouldn’t do that now when you have capable local labs. Now he says it’s too expensive.

NEOMG: But wouldn’t your way cost more money?

DP: I don’t think so at all. There’s a finite number of kits out there. You’re going to have to pay a certain cost no matter what. It’s just a matter of when. So by doing it quicker you front load the costs but that’s good because you’re getting through it.

NEOMG: Say you win, and there’s another challenge to Ohio’s gay marriage ban. You’re the attorney general, responsible for defending Ohio law. What do you do?

DP: The irony on this whole issue is that in principle, Mike DeWine and I agree on something. He just articulated it in the case about the right to lie in political ads. The role of the attorney general is very clearly to defend Ohio law and the Ohio Constitution, even when the attorney general might not personally agree with that law.

Your duty to simply follow the Ohio law blindly is trumped by your responsibility to speak up for federal constitutional rights. That’s what DeWine wrote in the separate brief that he filed in that right-to-lie case. I think that clearly applies in the case of these marriage equality bans. What DeWine is doing is even more extreme than these other cases. These other states are arguing that people in their own state shouldn’t get married. DeWine is arguing that valid marriages from other states shouldn’t be recognized here.

NEOMG: Your campaign has been called out for running a misleading “pay to play” ad that equates Mike DeWine’s repayment of a personal campaign loan with some major scandal. Why do you believe this is a fair attack for your campaign to promote?

DP: I didn’t say he broke the law. He’s obviously not in jail. But I don’t think that’s much of a defense. This is the largest [campaign] loan, we believe, in the history of Ohio. If you look back, you do not see loans nearly this size.

I think what’s driving all that pay to play is that over the last 3 ½ years on a regular basis, the money he’s pulling in from [donors who receive state contracts] he is transferring back to himself in six figure increments over and over. I can tell you as someone in politics, walking away from three years worth of fundraising and moving half the money back to myself would really change the motivation of the fundraising.

NEOMG: Fast-forward to 2018. What is David Pepper doing?

DP: Well, I know one thing. I will be almost celebrating my son’s fourth birthday. That’s a guarantee. Politically, I’ll be working as hard as I can to get re-elected.

This is one of the few jobs where every single day you can make a difference for citizens. I cannot think of anything more exciting than not just winning this November, but also running for re-election to keep doing this work. So that obviously would be my goal.

AP: Politicians fight over approach to heroin crisis

Andrew Welsh-Huggins 7:04 a.m. EDT October 9, 2014

COLUMBUS – Heroin has become the drug of choice for many addicts in Ohio — and the politicians squabbling over who has done the most to tackle the epidemic of overdose deaths blamed on it.

In the race for attorney general, Democratic challenger David Pepper has accused GOP incumbent Mike DeWine of a slow response to the heroin problem since taking office in 2011.

“For three years, Mike DeWine failed to notice Ohio’s exploding heroin crisis, and he has since offered a lot of talk with few solutions,” Pepper said earlier this year in a typical attack.

A record 680 Ohioans died of heroin-related overdoses in 2012, according to the most recent state Health Department records.

Pepper has proposed a mix of education, treatment and prevention. He said he would also sue drugmakers he accused of marketing powerful drugs such as painkillers without fully disclosing the risks.

Pepper and DeWine both favor tougher sentences for the worst dealers and homicide charges against dealers whose drugs result in overdose deaths.

The latest disagreement came last week, when DeWine announced the formation of a committee to study making death certificates standard across the state to improve the accuracy of drug overdose data. Pepper said he proposed a similar effort almost a year ago with a plan to create real-time crime tracking. DeWine’s office said the proposals are “apples and oranges.”

In Maryland, Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan has criticized Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, saying Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration hasn’t done enough to address that state’s heroin problem. Both candidates for Wisconsin attorney general, without assigning blame, have said more needs to be done about the problem.

In Ohio governor’s race, Democrat Ed FitzGerald has criticized Republican incumbent John Kasich for cutting funds to local governments, straining the resources of police and prosecutors as the heroin crisis worsens. The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed both FitzGerald and Pepper, citing in part their aggressive proposals for combatting heroin and concerns over the local government cuts.

When DeWine and Kasich took office in January 2011, heroin was a distant second to prescription painkillers as a cause of concern. The state tackled the problem with a successful crackdown on pills-on-demand pain clinics masquerading as legitimate medical centers.

But addicts’ move to cheaper and more readily available heroin cut the celebration short and by 2013, growing numbers of heroin deaths were the headline.

DeWine’s has held numerous forums with local police, community leaders and schools where — like Pepper — he emphasizes tougher laws, education, prevention and treatment. He announced the creation of a special heroin unit on Nov. 8.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” DeWine said at a heroin summit at a suburban Columbus high school earlier this year that was also attended by Kasich.

FitzGerald called Kasich’s attendance “hypocritical” given cuts to local government funding. Ohio Democrats have labeled such summits and forums “pep talks.”

Among other initiatives, the Kasich administration cites an anti-drug addiction program for school children and a new law allowing friends or family members of addicts to administer the drug overdose antidote, naloxone, marketed as Narcan, without fear of prosecution.

For information on local issues and candidates, visit the Times Recorder’s voter guide at ZanesvilleTimesRecorder.com/voterguide.

Toledo Blade: Pepper to DeWine – Stop fighting Ohio’s gay marriage ban

Published: Tuesday, 10/7/2014 – Updated: 2 weeks ago

With the Supreme Court leaving the question of same-sex marriage alone for now, the Democratic candidate for Ohio attorney general said today that Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine should stop defending Ohio’s ban.

“Yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court means that Americans in 30 states will likely soon enjoy marriage equality, with more to come. The longer Mr. DeWine wastes time and tax dollars fighting on the wrong side of the Constitution and history, the further behind Ohio will fall. It’s long past time to move on and move forward,” David Pepper said.

Mr. DeWine responded that that he has an obligation to defend the 2004 Constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage in Ohio.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to consider appeals from five states whose marriage bans have been struck down by federal appellate courts as unconstitutional. The ruling effectively legitimized marriages, at least for now, between two men or two women in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Mr. Pepper said it could have the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage in 30 states.

In the case pending in front of the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, plaintiffs claim that Ohio must recognize marriages performed in other states. The federal court could rule at any time.

“He should defend those laws except when those laws clearly violate the Constitution. Mike DeWine is in court trying to erase the marriage from the death certificate from a man who died last October,” Mr. Pepper said. “To be attacking a man’s marriage when he died a year ago is about as appalling a use of the job as I can think of. I’ll defend many cases I don’t agree with, but what I won’t defend is a law that’s unconstitutional.”

Mr. Pepper said Mr. DeWine has the power to simply drop the appeal, just as the Republican governor of Pennsylvania dropped his state’s appeal of a ruling against a gay marriage statute.

Mr. DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who was elected attorney general in 2010, is seeking re-election. Mr. Pepper is a former Cincinnati city councilman and former Hamilton County commissioner. Early voting for attorney general and other statewide and local offices and ballot questions began today.

Mr. DeWine said Mr. Pepper misunderstands the job he’s running for.

“I don’t have, as attorney general, the luxury of deciding which parts of Ohio’s constitution to defend. If the voters of Ohio 10 years ago had voted to allow gay marriage and that was in the Ohio Constitution Ii would defend that against attack. This is what the atty general does. It’s one more example that David Pepper doesn‘t get it,” Mr. DeWine said.

He noted that former Democratic state Attorney General Lee Fisher once defended an anti-abortion statute that he personally disagreed with but that had “a reasonable constitutional basis.”

Mr. DeWine reiterated his personal belief marriage should be only between a man and a woman, but added, “my personal opinion has nothing to do with it.”

Mr. Pepper noted that Mr. DeWine earlier this year gave his personal opinion about an Ohio law that was up for constitutional review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Mr. DeWine defended the law under which candidates and groups can be punished for knowingly make false statements in political ads, but personally filed a brief agreeing with the plaintiffs that the law has a “potentially chilling effect” on free speech.

DeWine spokesman Ryan Stubenbrauch said a difference between the campaign advertising law and the same-sex marriage law is that the first was a statute enacted a long time ago by the General Assembly while the gay-marriage ban was approved by Ohio voters less than 10 years ago.

A federal district judge in Cincinnati in April struck down the part of Ohio’s ban on gay marriage when it comes to recognizing marriages legally performed in other states.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2014/10/07/Pepper-to-DeWine-Stop-fighting-Ohio-s-gay-marriage-ban.html#8PZVmEQJGF71dl1P.99

DISPATCH REVEALS DEWINE USING AG’S OFFICE TO PUSH PERSONAL POLITICAL AGENDA ACROSS UNITED STATES

COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, reacted to revelations that Mike DeWine has intervened or filed briefs in over 50 court cases across the country. Many of the cases deal with highly partisan issues and are apparently motivated by DeWine’s personal political agenda.

In fact, DeWine admitted that his personal beliefs drive what cases he chooses to enter. In one example, DeWine lead 19 other state attorneys general at the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case to stop women from receiving birth control coverage under their employer-provided health insurance plans. He’s also entered similarly partisan cases in Nebraska, Arizona, Michigan, and other states.

“With so much work to do to ensure safety and clean government right here in Ohio, the Attorney General should not be wasting time and money entering partisan cases across the country,” Pepper said. “As Attorney General, I will leave the political squabbling to the DC politicians while I focus on cases that truly benefit the public interests of Ohio and its residents.”

Pepper has pledged to make the Attorney General’s process for getting involved in national court cases more transparent. If elected, he will post any and all involvement in cases outside of Ohio on the Attorney General’s website so that Ohioans can easily judge for themselves whether it is an appropriate use of their tax dollars.

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LINNABARY ENDORSES PEPPER FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL

COLUMBUS – Today, Steven Linnabary, the Libertarian candidate for Ohio Attorney General, announced that he was endorsing David Pepper. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted removed Linnabary and the Libertarian candidate for governor from the ballot earlier this year. The Libertarian Party has challenged Husted’s actions in federal court.

Linnabary made the following statement endorsing Pepper:

“Libertarians in Ohio have been targeted repeatedly by the powerful GOP machine. We’ve learned that they can’t be trusted to fairly and evenhandedly administer the law. I believe David Pepper is a man of integrity and common sense. His term in the Attorney General’s office will give all Ohio Libertarians hope that he will put rampant partisanship behind us and serve the interests of all Ohioans.”

Libertarian candidates have been repeatedly and unfairly targeted by Republican officeholders. In 2013, the GOP-controlled General Assembly changed signature requirements for Libertarians, an unconstitutional law that was later overturned by federal courts. In 2014, Secretary Husted targeted Libertarian candidates for removal from the ballot. Brad Smith, the hearing officer assigned to the case by Husted, was simultaneously serving as an attorney for Mike DeWine, a fact he failed to disclose.

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Mad Men

For three months, the harassment took place, laced with violent language, often in uncomfortably close physical proximity.

“You know you will do your job or you will be smacked,” the new employee was warned, hand raised.

“You know there is nothing more fun than smacking a woman, that is, except for punching them.”

The section supervisor knew about the behavior, but did nothing for months. He even told one colleague he didn’t want to create “a no-fun zone” in the office.

Was this a recent Mad Men episode, depicting a hostile workplace of decades past?

Sadly, no. This was the Ohio Attorney General’s Office…last year…the Employment Law Section, of all places. The Section that advises other state agencies on how to create harassment-free workplaces.

Ultimately, an investigation by a sexual harassment investigator found that both the supervisor and harasser were in the wrong. But little came of it. For his months of hostility, the harasser was only suspended for 5 “working” days. The supervisor, incredibly, managed to “appeal” and get his finding overturned (the only overturned finding in five years)—no punishment whatsoever for turning the other way.

And the victim, not surprisingly, has left the office.

This horrific story of workplace harassment broke last Friday in papers across the state. And with Ohio women asking questions, AG DeWine’s excuses have only begged more questions.

Why did the harasser only get a 5-day “working” suspension? According to DeWine: “The comments weren’t directed toward any one person in the sense that he said he was going to hurt anybody or hurt the person.”

Actually, they were clearly directed at the same victim again and again for months. And she was told SHE “would be smacked.” DeWine has clearly not reviewed the facts of the case, or he is simply insensitive to their seriousness.

But beyond that, DeWine seems to suggest that if the comments were generally misogynistic and violent, that should not command serious accountability. Also deeply troubling.

And as for the supervisor, DeWine stated he was entitled to a “fair process.” But the AG’s Policy on Harassment does not even give the supervisor a right to appeal those investigative findings. So this politically connected supervisor benefitted from an “appeal’ process not even permitted by the office’s policy—and got off scot-free because of his second bite at the apple.

At a time where there remains far too much violence against women in our workplaces and in our communities generally, talk of violence and harassment in the Attorney General’s Office are absolutely unacceptable.

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And so I will make three things clear from day 1:

1) Supervisors will report harassment and violence, or be held accountable.

2) Perpetrators will be held immediately accountable for their words or actions.

3) Victims will know that their well-being will be my top concern—not the fate of supervisors who looked the other way.

I will also overhaul the Employment Law Section so that it is staffed with leaders with the expertise and judgment to guide agencies across the state in creating harassment-free workplaces across state government.

Time for a change.

DEWINE EXPLANATION OF WEAK HARASSMENT RESPONSE MISSTATES FACTS, UNDERSCORES PROBLEMS IN OFFCE

COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign issued the following statement regarding Mike DeWine’s response to on-going harassment issues in the Attorney General’s Office. Last week, the Associated Press revealed that an attorney in DeWine’s office repeatedly threatened a legal secretary. A senior DeWine aide who was aware of the threats was disciplined for not reporting them, but later was allowed to have the punishment overturned.

Specifically, DeWine told WBNS 10TV that threats “weren’t directed at any one person in the sense that he was going to hurt anybody.” However, news reports and the incident file demonstrate that the threats went on for a period of several months and were aimed directly at a female employee. Amongst other things, she was told, “You know you will do your job or you will be smacked.”

After months of prodding by female colleagues, the attorney who made these threats was given a “working suspension” and remains on the AG’s payroll. The victim no longer works there.

Timothy Lecklider, the senior DeWine aide who failed to report the threats, told a colleague he didn’t want to create a “no fun zone” in the office.

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

“Violent threats often precede violence itself. Leadership starts at the top, and Mike DeWine’s alarmingly dismissive attitude about threats against women explains why a harassment culture has overtaken his office. In 2014, the Ohio Attorney General should recognize that women deserve to be treated with respect, not be repeatedly victimized to preserve the office’s ‘fun zone.’”

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PEPPER: HARASSMENT CASES, THREATS OF VIOLENCE SHOW NEED FOR OVERHAUL, ACCOUNTABILITY IN AG’S OFFICE

COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, joined women from across Ohio to criticize a troubling pattern of harassment cases and short-circuited investigations in the Attorney General’s Office:

“These startling incidents are starting to resemble a workplace out of the 1950s when it comes to women. It’s long past time to end a “Mad Men” culture which keeps rearing its ugly head in the Attorney General’s Office,” Pepper said.

“The attorney general can’t lead the fight to prevent violence against women if he doesn’t protect the women who work in his own office. Threats of violence are never acceptable and should never be swept under the rug. I will order a complete internal investigation of these incidents and any others—and bring in outside experts to do a top-to-bottom review of the office’s harassment policies and practices—to ensure that we are taking every possible step to create a safe, harassment-free working environment in the AG’s office.”

Last Thursday, the Associated Press reported details of a case in which an attorney in the Employment Law Section made repeated threats of physical violence against a legal secretary—specifically referring to “punching” and “slapping” women. A senior DeWine aide was aware of the incidents, but failed to report them, and told some employees he didn’t want to create a “no fun zone” in the Attorney General’s office. He was initially disciplined, but, in an unusual move, was later allowed to have his case reinvestigated. The attorney who made the threats remains an AG employee, while the victim no longer works there.

This is the second major harassment case to be uncovered in the office, after a case involving the harassment of a female intern was revealed earlier this year. In that case, DeWine himself demanded to know the name of a confidential informant and met with that informant. The case went unresolved, and the intern never returned.

As a centerpiece of his agenda, Pepper has pledged to make preventing violence against women a priority. In April, he released his plan to make Ohio a leader in preventing domestic abuse and sexual assaults.

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