Toledo Blade: Pepper for Ohio AG (Endorsement)

One of Ohio’s best-known political figures, Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine, seeks a second term. He faces an aggressive challenge from Democrat David Pepper, an attorney, former Cincinnati City Council member, and past president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. The Blade recommends the election of DAVID PEPPER.

The winner of next month’s election will become Ohio’s top cop for the next four years, supervising more than 1,600 employees and overseeing a $261 million annual budget. The attorney general’s office helps local police agencies and enforces laws on predatory lending, consumer protection, health-care fraud, anti-trust cases, and charitable organizations. The Ohio attorney general earns an annual salary of $109,564.

Mr. DeWine’s tenure has had several high points. He has reduced the state’s backlog of untested rape kits, and shortened average wait times for new DNA testing from 125 days to 23 days.

The attorney general started calling for old DNA evidence in 2011, encouraging Ohio’s 800 law enforcement agencies to clear their testable sexual-assault evidence shelves. Since then, police agencies have submitted more than 8,300 rape kits for testing by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Slightly more than half of the old kits — many of them 10 to 20 years old — have been tested. Ohio’s backlog of old DNA kits should be cleared in about a year.

Responding to the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic, Mr. DeWine conducted about a dozen town hall meetings around the state, wisely and properly using his bully pulpit to raise awareness of a growing public health problem. Mr. DeWine also created a $1 million heroin unit to assist local police agencies with larger, long-term cases.

“We can’t arrest our way out of the problem,” Mr. DeWine has, prudently, stated on numerous occasions. In August, his office granted Lucas County $500,000 for recovery housing and another $150,000 to support the Sheriff’s Office’s addiction resource unit.

Before he became attorney general in 2011, Mr. DeWine, 67, served as a U.S. senator and House member, county prosecutor, state senator, and lieutenant governor under Gov. George Voinovich.

Mr. Pepper, a Yale University graduate, is also well qualified for the job. He has managed a large county, clerked for a respected U.S. Court of Appeals judge, and taken a lead role in improving police-community relations in Cincinnati. He teaches at the University of Cincinnati’s law school.

Overall, Mr. Pepper has an unusually sharp grasp of urban issues — a perspective that’s sorely lacking in Ohio state government. The son of former Procter & Gamble CEO John Pepper, he ran unsuccessfully for Cincinnati mayor in 2005. He was elected county commissioner a year later, but lost a close race for state auditor in 2010 .

Mr. Pepper, 42, accuses Mr. DeWine of bid-rigging and using the attorney general’s office to advance a far-right political agenda. As the underdog, he has overreached in some criticisms of Mr. DeWine, but generally has been on point.

He denounces what he calls rampant pay-to-play politics in the attorney general’s office, and vows sweeping reforms in how bids are awarded.

Mr. Pepper’s charges of bid-rigging may be exaggerated. Nevertheless, records appear to correlate numerous campaign contributions to Mr. DeWine with contract awards. At the very least, they give the appearance of a process that is tainted and less than honest.

Mr. DeWine denies any wrongdoing, including a connection between campaign donations and contract awards. To his credit, he has heard the critics and vowed to be more transparent in how bids are awarded. But he has rejected some of Mr. Pepper’s sensible reforms, such as prohibiting fund-raising activity during the bulk of the bidding process.

Contract awarding under Mr. DeWine has fallen short of the highest standards of accountability and transparency — standards that the state’s chief law enforcement officer ought to meet.

Even more troubling is Mr. DeWine’s penchant for using his office to fight ill-advised and divisive legal battles around the country. He has become a national leader among state attorneys general in trying to stop birth control coverage mandates stemming from the Affordable Care Act. He also has involved himself in out-of-state cases on abortion and gun control.

Mr. DeWine is hardly the first attorney general to weigh in on out-of-state court cases. But repeatedly using a statewide office to fight partisan and ideological legal battles around the country, representing the views of the extreme right, is troubling. The Ohio attorney general should focus on what matters to the vast majority of the people of this state.

Mr. Pepper has also made mistakes. He racked up nearly $10,000 in fines for violations that include expired license plates and parking tickets over a 14-year period. Mr. Pepper was sent more than 160 delinquency violations for failing to pay tickets. All fines were eventually paid.

This too is troubling for a candidate who wants to be attorney general. Still, when voters elect an attorney general, parking tickets are less relevant than murky business dealings and use of the office to advance a partisan agenda.

Courteous and soft-spoken, Mr. DeWine is an old-school gentleman who has never let the trappings of power go to his head. For four decades, he has, for the most part, served the state with honor, dedication, and integrity.

But it’s time for a change. Mr. Pepper represents a fresh voice. Smart and tough, he has enormous potential to become an outstanding attorney general.

Now more than ever, the state needs an energetic attorney general who will serve all the people of Ohio and uphold the highest standards of accountability, transparency, and honesty. Ohio needs DAVID PEPPER as its next top cop.

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Featured-Editorial-Home/2014/10/05/Pepper-for-Ohio-AG.html#z42IqavG5TEVm1BM.99

Plain Dealer: David Pepper addresses violence against women at City Club

By Ryllie Danylko, Northeast Ohio Media Group
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on October 01, 2014 at 6:00 PM, updated October 01, 2014 at 6:44 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Democratic candidate for Ohio attorney general David Pepper took several digs at incumbent Mike DeWine’s absence during an appearance Wednesday at the City Club of Cleveland.

Pepper began the forum, which was supposed to be a debate, by expressing his disappointment at DeWine’s refusal to appear, calling it embarrassing for the Republican.

“What kind of attorney is afraid to stand up and make their case?” Pepper asked.

DeWine declined to participate in what was supposed to be a debate, saying the public already had enough opportunities to get to know the candidates at other joint appearances, including one with the Northeast Ohio Media Group editorial board.

Pepper also discussed the state’s heroin epidemic, untested rape kits and domestic violence, among other topics. Here are some highlights.

On Ohio’s heroin epidemic

Pepper said Ohio is taking steps backward in combating a heroin crisis. He noted that the state cut funding for treatment in July and he accused DeWine of acting too late in addressing the crisis.

On violence against women

Pepper discussed the NFL’s recent suspension of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice, who was banned from the league after a video surfaced of him knocking out his fiancee.

Pepper said the fact that it took releasing the tape to get the NFL to take action shows society’s tendency to turn the other cheek on domestic violence.

He also cited the Steubenville rape case, the three Cleveland women held captive for nearly a decade, and the state’s untested rape kits.

Pepper said the attorney general should lead the way with a proactive plan to help prevent domestic violence and change the culture of looking the other way when violence occurs.

On Ohio’s domestic violence laws

Ohio needs to have broader domestic violence laws that capture a wider range of abuses, Pepper said.

Pepper said he also plans to use the attorney general’s office to enforce laws requiring witnesses to report a crime. He referenced the three young men who witnessed the Steubenville rape and failed to report it.

“Those three young men were told by Mr. DeWine that they didn’t commit a crime,” Pepper said.

The candidate also wants to make sure Ohio universities are doing everything they can to address sexual assault and promote safe campuses, as part of a national movement toward preventing rape at universities.

On the untested Cleveland rape kits

Pepper commended DeWine for beginning the process of testing the almost 4,000 untested Cleveland rape kits, but said he is not acting with enough urgency.

Over the past several months, more rape kits were sent to a state lab for testing,  Pepper said. Testing 300 a month is not enough, according to Pepper, especially given the high conviction rate from the kits that have been tested.

Pepper proposed partnering with local labs to share the work of testing the remaining rape kits.

The candidate ended by saying the Attorney General’s Office should be a resource for victims of abuse or assault.

More from the forum, including the Q&A session, can be found in the comments section of this story.

Link: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/10/post_251.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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.

Link: http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/article-43278-david-pepper-he-will-serve-justice-not-ideology-or-party.html

Dispatch: Attorney general candidates DeWine, Pepper are vastly different

By Alan JohnsonThe Columbus Dispatch  •  Sunday September 21, 2014 11:37 AM
The candidates for Ohio attorney general are both lawyers who are competitive and have boundless energy. Beyond that, Republican incumbent Mike DeWine and Democrat David Pepper share little common ground.

DeWine, 67, grew up in small-town Yellow Springs, Ohio, got his law degree from Ohio Northern University, and has been in public office 34 of the past 38 years, including two terms in the U.S. Senate.

Pepper, 43, hails from Cincinnati, graduated from Yale University Law School, and spent two years in Russia working for a U.S. research group. His political experience is limited to two offices in Hamilton County and a failed race for state auditor.

The DeWine-Pepper clash has been the most spirited of statewide campaigns other than the gubernatorial race. Charges and countercharges have been flying in speeches, news releases and social media. So far, neither campaign has aired television commercials, although each has the money to do so in the final stages of the campaign.

…….

Pepper was not born into a wealthy family, although his father, John, eventually rose to become the powerful chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble, a multinational company based in Cincinnati.

“Dad had Wiedemann’s beer in the pantry,” Pepper said. “He wouldn’t have a Coke; he had Circle K (from Cincinnati’s Kroger Co.). From the day he started, he was pinching pennies.”

Still, Pepper acknowledged, he was “very lucky” to have a family that could afford to send him to Yale University. “I feel like I’ve been given enormous opportunities. … Giving back through public service always seemed the path I should take.”

After graduating from Yale, Pepper went to work in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., research group. It was a heady experience for a man in his 20s, rubbing elbows with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin, then an adviser in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office.

Returning to the U.S., Pepper went to law school and was a clerk for Judge Nathaniel Jones of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 1999 to 2000.

“I was very impressed with him,” said Jones, who served on the court from 1979 to 2003. “He was always seeking solutions. … Rather than curse the darkness, David was always trying to light candles.”

Jones said his former clerk would make an excellent attorney general. “He understands the office and the role. He sees it as more than a political steppingstone to governor or some other office. He’s a person of unquestioned honesty and integrity.

While he could have gone to work for a large firm in Washington or New York, as many of his Yale classmates did, Pepper, a fifth-generation Cincinnatian, returned to find that his city was in disarray, struggling with finances, stalled riverfront development and race riots in 2001.

Pepper said he decided to run for Cincinnati City Council but didn’t know how. “I went to Amazon.com and bought books about how to run a campaign.” He came up with a slogan, “Just Add Pepper,” and was off on a successful inaugural campaign, finishing first among 26 candidates. He was re-elected in 2003 and won election as a Hamilton County commissioner in 2006.

When former Gov. Ted Strickland asked Pepper to run for state auditor in 2010, he said he “took a long time to think about it. It was a big decision.” Pepper made a respectful showing, losing by 5 percent to Republican Dave Yost.

Key issues

How do you plan to deal with the heroin and prescription-drug crisis in Ohio?

DeWine: The attorney general’s office has been on the front lines helping Ohio communities fight back. When prescription pills were killing Ohioans in 2011, we took action, then shifted resources to combat the exploding growth of heroin use. We emphasize a multifaceted approach: cracking down on high-level drug dealers, grass-roots solutions involving education and prevention for communities, and innovative ideas to improve recovery for addicts.

Pepper: Sadly, the state and Attorney General DeWine have no comprehensive plan to deal with the state’s heroin epidemic, and it shows. Overdose deaths have been exploding by 50-60 percent per year. I will attack this crisis by expanding high-quality treatment and prevention services, cracking down on trafficking and dealers, and expanding the use of life-saving anti-overdose medications. I will provide support for prosecutors so that they can hold dealers accountable for a homicide whenever the heroin they sell causes an overdose death.

How would you protect women from rape and other forms of violence?

DeWine: We took action when others did not and called for statewide testing of all untested rape kits across Ohio. (About) 8,500 kits, some that had sat for up to 20 years, have been sent to the lab and almost 5,000 have been tested. More than 200 rapists have been indicted and dozens of serial rapists have been uncovered. The kits are being tested in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Pepper: Ohio has seen too many high-profile cases of violence against women but little in the way of a comprehensive response. Under my plan, we will establish a zero-tolerance approach to assaults on college campuses, expand services for violence and sexual-assault survivors and speed up the testing of the thousands of old rape kits sitting on shelves throughout the state.

What is your plan for protecting vulnerable Ohioans?

DeWine: In Ohio, we have almost 1.7 million people over the age of 65. Sadly, there’s no shortage of crooks who target this generation with abuse, scams, and theft. We have cracked down on these criminals from my first day in office, launching a new unit that has indicted more than 110 scam artists, and launching an Elder Justice Initiative that pools resources to increase prosecution of nursing-home abuse and caregiver fraud.

Pepper: Nothing we do is more important than protecting Ohio’s children. I will do so by restoring funding for school-safety and drug-prevention officers, which AG DeWine has cut every year he’s been in office. I will modernize the office to crack down on online predators, including processing computer and digital evidence faster, since so many crimes targeting children now take place online and involve digital evidence.

Link: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/09/20/dewine-pepper-are-vastly-different.html

Sidney Daily News: Pepper visits Shelby County, school safety practices draw AG candidate

Last updated: September 11. 2014 3:20PM – 553 Views By rlloyd@civitasmedia.com

SIDNEY — The Democrat candidate for state attorney general, David Pepper, visited Shelby County Thursday morning to see for himself how this small county in rural Western Ohio has pulled ahead of the pack in protecting its children.

Pepper said he was drawn to Shelby County when he heard about the sheriff’s program of hiring retired law enforcement officers to work as full-time school security officers.

County Sheriff John Lenhart, a Republican and a veteran of the state attorney general’s office, said he was eager for the candidate to visit and see the great strides the county has made in protecting schoolchildren.

“I think the security of our children should cross party lines,” Lenhart said. “We can’t think of anything more important we do in law enforcement than protecting our kids.”

Pepper visited Sidney Middle School and Emerson Elementary, meeting the officers in charge of school security and learning about the measures that have been put in place to protect the children.

Lenhart told him about the school officers’ duties and also about the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) training the school teachers and officials have completed through the sheriff’s office. Lenhart said every school in the county, except Lehman, completed ALICE training through the sheriff’s office before the start of school this year.

Deputy Rick Cron, the former Piqua Police officer who heads security at Sidney Middle School, told Pepper, “We make sure everything’s secure and people are properly passed. We watch the cameras.”

Pepper was shown the monitor displaying footage from several security cameras placed strategically throughout the middle school.

At Emerson, Pepper met Deputy Michael E. Henry, former longtime Logan County Sheriff, who said his current position is “the greatest job I’ve ever had in my life.”

Henry told Pepper of his daily interaction with the students and stressed the difference it can make in a child’s outlook and future to have daily, positive interaction with a uniformed officer.

Lenhart made it clear that the school officers do not just stand in a corner looking intimidating or wander the halls looking for bad guys — they interact with the students, acting as tutors, mentors, supporters and positive role models.

As if to illustrate the point, after frequent glances at his watch, Henry excused himself and cut short his chat with Pepper to meet a prior commitment — his regular appointment with an autistic first-grader whom Henry escorts to gym class. Moments later, Henry reappeared with a big smile, being pulled along at the hand of a rosy-cheeked, chattering charmer in a hurry to get to the jump ropes.

One of the key portions of Pepper’s campaign platform is “Protecting Ohio’s Children,” which specifically includes a goal of getting uniformed officers back into schools.

According to figures from the attorney general’s office included in Pepper’s campaign materials, In 2010, the attorney general office provided grant support to 380 DARE/SRO (Drug Abuse Resistance Education/schoolresource officer) officers. In the past three years, that number dropped to 302 in 2012-13, to 288 in 2013-14 and to 228 in 2014-15.

Pepper’s child protection plan also addresses charter school accountability, abuse prevention, online safety and gun law enforcement.

Link: http://www.sidneydailynews.com/news/home_top-news-politics/50606932/Pepper-visits-Shelby-County

Dispatch: Pepper calls for charter school accountability

By Alan JohnsonThe Columbus Dispatch  •  Wednesday September 10, 2014 1:54 AM

Troubled charter schools are “reaching a crisis level” in Ohio and must be made accountable for putting students and taxpayers in peril, David Pepper, Democratic candidate for attorney general, said yesterday.

“We need to take a timeout,” Pepper told a retired-teachers council at the Ohio Education Association, 225 E. Broad St. “There’s millions of dollars missing” from failed and failing charter schools. “If this was a company doing trash pickup, it would be a big scandal.”

As part of his “Protecting Ohio’s Children” plan, Pepper said, if elected on Nov. 4, he will get tough on charter schools — something he says Attorney General Mike DeWine has not done.

DeWine’s office dropped out of an Ohio Supreme Court case that pitted charter-school operators against for-profit White Hat Management over who gets to keep computers, textbooks and equipment purchased with taxpayer dollars. White Hat owner David Brennan is a major campaign contributor to DeWine and the Republican Party — a reason DeWine didn’t pursue the case, Pepper claimed.

“When it hit the Ohio Supreme Court, the attorney general abandoned the case and the schoolchildren of Ohio,” Pepper said.

But DeWine’s office staff previously said the decision not to continue the White Hat case was made because the judge had dropped the Ohio Department of Education, whom the attorney general represents, as a party. It was decided that a friend of the court filing would be inappropriate, they said.

A Dispatch analysis this year found that 29 percent of Ohio’s charter schools have closed, dating to 1997 when they became legal. About 400 charters are operating, but 134 have closed.

Some shut down because of money problems, others because students weren’t getting healthy lunches or buildings were unsanitary. In one case, students were reportedly allowed to engage in sexual activity in a Dayton charter school.

Pepper also said he will work to rectify Ohio’s school-funding system, ruled unconstitutional in 1997 by the Ohio Supreme Court and never fixed to be “thorough and efficient.”

The system is going in the wrong direction, Pepper said, by increasingly relying on local revenue and less on the state, the exact opposite of the direction dictated by the court 17 years ago.

Christine McVicar, a retired schoolteacher from the Marietta area, said her son, now 28, was in elementary school when the DeRolph school-funding decision was issued. While he made it to college, “it was not a level playing field for him” because of school-funding inequities, she said.

“We are wasting the talent of so many students that could be adding to the state of Ohio,” McVicar said.

DeWine campaign spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch slammed Pepper for overreaching.

“If he’s elected the lawyer of the state, he’s going to do the job of the legislature, the governor and the attorney general all at the same time.

“No one is saying school funding is perfect right now,” Stubenrauch said. “But it’s inappropriate and unethical for the attorney general to be standing on the street corner yelling, ‘ My client is breaking the law.’  ”

Link: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/09/09/Pepper_on_charter_schools.html

AP: Pepper criticizes drop in DARE funding

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More money should be found to pay for D.A.R.E. and school resources police officers as Ohio’s heroin’s epidemic worsens, the Democratic candidate for Ohio attorney general said Tuesday as he criticized his opponent for a drop in funding in recent years.

The attorney general’s office helped fund 380 D.A.R.E. and resource officers in 2010, the last year of Democrat Richard Cordray’s term in office, a figure that has fallen to 228 this year, Democrat David Pepper said.

Pepper pledged to work with state lawmakers and local police to boost the numbers.

A record 1,914 Ohioans died of drug overdoses in 2012, including 680 heroin-related deaths, according to the most recent state Health Department records. Since 2007, more Ohioans have died of accidental drug overdoses than car crashes.

Pepper has criticized his opponent, GOP incumbent Mike DeWine, for responding slowly and ineffectively to the heroin crisis. DeWine has said the problem was unprecedented and he has launched numerous efforts to combat it.

Funding for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E., dropped during the recession as schools and local police had less money available, DeWine’s office said.

Another funding source, state license reinstatement fees, dropped 3 percent a year for the past four years, according to a report commissioned by DeWine last year that also found D.A.R.E. participation dropping as schools questioned its effectiveness.

The report concluded that consideration should be given to funding programs that are part of an overall approach to the drug problem, including merging prevention and treatment programs.

Link: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/09/09/pepper-criticizes-drop-dare-funding/15342455/

Sidney Daily News: Pepper’s goal – Clean up the AG’s office

Last updated: August 10. 2014 4:20PM – 690 Views

The Democratic candidate for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office wants to clean up state and local government in the state.

And that process would start with the AG’s office.

David Pepper, recently announced a plan which would implement initiatives to clean up the “ethically questionable behavior by state and local elected officials and senior state employees.”

Pepper, of Cincinnati, says his history on Cincinnati City Council, as a Hamilton County commissioner and attorney, will help him bring the Attorney General’s Office back to the people.

“The problem is that politics if broken in Columbus and in Washington, DC.,” said Pepper recently. “We need to make a difference for Ohio families. That’s not being done today.”

Pepper said the attorney general’s office must have credibility “that can only be earned by running an office that is a model for public integrity.”

Some of the items which Pepper wants to change if elected includes:

• Ending Pay to Play: Pepper says he wants to end the current practice that requires anyone who wishes to do work with the AG’s office must hire high-priced lobbyists to get in the door. He says the lobbyists are personal friends of current office holder Mike DeWine.

• Hiring for AG positions: Pepper says he will open up the hiring process so that vacant positions are publicized and open to Ohio’s residents.

• Ethics and conflict of interest: Pepper says he will ask for a review of AG conflict of interest policies and pass reforms to establish guidelines on when an individual should recuse themselves from a case.

• Transparency: Pepper says every Ohio resident should know what the AG’s office is doing on their behalf. If elected, Pepper said he would post all out-of-state cases online so the citizens know what cases the office is bringing on their behalf; and post all special counsel and other outside vendors to the office online.

The office of attorney general, said Pepper, should be a role model for other state and local offices in the state.

“If a person feels there corruption going on, the Attorney General’s Office should be doing something about it,” said Pepper. “But first we have to glean up the AG’s office. It should be a model of integrity in the state.”

He also feels if a person has been in politics for decades, he/she can’t see anything wrong with giving contracts to those people who make contributions to their political campaigns.

“I’ve heard people say ‘that’s just how it works.’ My response is that’s not how it works and it needs to be changed,” said Pepper. “A fresh set of eyes can show people what’s not appropriate.

“The attorney general’s office is the best office to crack down on corruption. He (DeWine) won’t do it because he;’s breaking the rules. He has no ability to enforce the rules.”

As a Democrat from “the Republican part of Ohio,” Pepper’s goal is to get the crossover votes in November.

“I’m good at battling crime,” said Pepper. “I helped clean up the Cincinnati crime. I have a good track record on spending and being fiscally responsible to the community.”

Pepper said the AG’s office should respect local law enforcement.

“They are on the front lines in keeping us safe,” said Pepper. “The view from Columbus shows a three-year nonstop assault on local government and law enforcement. I want to restart the partnership with local law enforcement. The AG’s position should not take away from local law enforcement.”

Pepper also questions the recent cuts in treatment programs for people with addictions.

“Mike (DeWine) has a grant view of what the state does,” said Pepper. “I have the local level in my view. I don’t want to take funds from the local level to get things done at the state level.”

Pepper also has a plan to take on heroin addiction in the state. His plan would include treating the heroin epidemic as a public health crisis; drying up the demand for heroin; saving lives with the drug Narcan; cracking down on the dealers who supply and deal the drugs; and to provide support and training for local law enforcement.

Additional information about Pepper can be found on his website, www.DavidPepper.com.

Pepper and DeWine will face each other in the November election.

Link: http://www.sidneydailynews.com/news/politics/50233711/Peppers-goal:-Clean-up-AGs-office#.U-jrQ1ZKsdt

Wooster Daily Record: Pepper a better choice for Ohio AG (Letter to the Editor)

Editor:

Did you know that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine used our tax dollars and resources to file an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby, putting employer’s interests over the rights and health care choices of women? One week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 90 percent of American businesses may, on religious grounds, deny insurance coverage of women’s health needs for their female employees. This devastating decision allows bosses to force their personal beliefs on employees. This decision is a tremendous blow to women’s health, rights and privacy. Who do you think Mike DeWine advocates for? NOT Ohio’s women. We should hold him accountable for spending public funds to reduce our access to health care.

But there is more: In 2011 Attorney General DeWine asked 800 law enforcement agencies statewide to send in unprocessed rape kits to the AG’s office. He has failed to manage the testing of the kits, only having tested half and leaving a record backlog of 3,893 untested kits. This backlog has continued to grow for nine months, while there could be as many as 11,000 untested kits remaining across the state. It will take the Bureau of Criminal Investigation four to five years to test 250 to 300 kits each month.

David Pepper has a plan when he becomes Ohio Attorney General: 1. Enlist qualified local and regional labs to share the burden with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 2. Prioritize justice for survivors of sexual assault and their families. 3. Reduce the backlog within 150 days of David Pepper taking office. 4. Use a more cost effective method of partnering with local labs.

According to the AG’s website, there are nine ASCLD-LAB accredited forensic DNA labs in Ohio. Attorney General DeWine has refused to partner with the additional labs.

The Toledo Blade stated in a July 3 editorial that “David Pepper’s plan makes more sense than Mike DeWine’s go-it-alone strategy. DeWine’s refusal to work with local crime labs to test these kits faster makes absolutely no sense. DeWine has left the people — particularly the women — of Ohio far behind him. … David Pepper will do better.”

Lupe Williams

Wooster

Link: http://www.the-daily-record.com/opinion/2014/07/15/letter-pepper-a-better-choice-for-ohio-s-ag

Hamilton Journal News: Tax dollars from failed charters go uncollected, candidates say

Posted: 5:52 p.m. Monday, July 14, 2014

By Michael D. Pitman

Staff Writer

WEST CHESTER TWP. —

A pair of statewide candidates are saying their political adversaries in this November’s election are “laying down on the job” as millions of dollars are going to failing or failed nonpublic charter schools, and not into the coffers of successful public school districts.

But representatives for Ohio Auditor David Yost and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that accusation couldn’t be further from the truth.

State Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Columbus, and former Hamilton County commissioner David Pepper, also a Democrat, said Yost and DeWine are not doing enough when it comes to collecting the millions of dollars owed back to the state by failed charter schools.

“Unfortunately for our state, under Republican leadership, (efforts for charter school transparency) has gone the exact opposite way of trying to provide accountability and oversight,” said Carney, who will challenge Yost in November. “The path to the American Dream goes through the public school system and sound and quality education.”

Carney along with Pepper, who will challenge DeWine in November, held a press conference at The Square at Union Center in West Chester Twp. Monday afternoon. Nearly $476.9 million in taxpayer money has been transferred to failing charter schools across the state, according to the Carney campaign, which compiled data from the Ohio Department of Education and the Columbus-based nonpartisan think tank, Innovation Ohio.

Carney and Pepper said, according to that same data, nearly $83.5 million has been transferred from “A” rated public schools to “F” rated charter schools in the state. And Carney said in Butler County, Ross, Talawanda, Lakota, Middletown and Hamilton school districts have lost around $8 million collectively to poorer performing charter schools.

“All schools and administrators should be held to the same level of accountability, regardless of whether they are public schools or charter schools,” Carney said, who also held a press conference with Pepper and others in Hamilton County Tuesday morning. “Families have the right that their tax dollars are going to schools that deserve it and that their children are being provided the best education possible to allow them to succeed.”

Carney, who is “a supporter of good schools,” said charter schools are important, but it’s “discouraging though when those doing the worst job seem to like they’re getting the most money.”

Brittany Halpin, a spokeswoman for David Yost’s political campaign, said the first-term auditor has been a watchdog of taxpayer dollars, even when it comes to charter schools.

“Here are the facts: Auditor Dave Yost found more than $9 million in stolen or misspent public money in Ohio’s charter schools, turned 22 corrupt officials into convicted criminals, and partnered with the FBI to put a notorious charter school crook behind bars,” she said. “The message is clear — under Auditor Yost’s watch, charter schools must follow the law or face the law.”

Pepper said outside of House Bill 520 — which Carney jointly sponsored with Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, and calls for open records for charter schools — “there’s nothing being done.”

“There’s $31 million missing from failed charter schools. The attorney general’s job is to collect that,” said Pepper, who currently works as an attorney. “They’ve collected $500,000 out of that $31 million. If the auditor and attorney general would work together, they could go find that money.”

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine’s office, said they’re mistaken to think the Attorney General’s Office isn’t doing anything to collect taxpayer dollars from failed charter schools.

“I don’t think they read beyond the headlines because it just shows a basic lack of understanding of how charter school collections work,” he said.

Tierney said it is the local counsel’s liability to first try to collect any finding of recovery owed, which could be a local school district or prosecutor’s office. He said after a couple of months, if that debt has not been collected by the local authority, the attorney general’s office by law is the “default collector” of any debts. And there is only a six-year statute of limitations to collect any findings for recovery, as opposed to delinquent tax collections where there’s a 40-year statute of limitations.

Tierney said to extend any statute of limitations, the attorney general’s office would file lawsuits, but collecting is difficult.

“In the cases of failed charter schools, these are entities that have shut down with no assets, no operations … no income,” said Tierney. “And we’re asked to collect money that’s already been spent.”

He said they do have recourse to seek the bond of the treasurer of a failed charter school — if there is a valid bond — or the owner of record, but often they typically have no money to pay the findings for recovery.

Link: http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/tax-dollars-from-failed-charter-schools-go-uncolle/ngfn3/