COLUMBUS – In honor of Throwback Thursday, the Pepper campaign today revisited Mike DeWine’s 2014 Cincinnati Right to Life candidate survey. DeWine handwrote and signed the survey himself.

In the survey, DeWine pledged to “work actively” to revoke laws and local ordinances that infringe upon “rights of conscience.” (See Q. 13).  “Conscience rights” were the exact same basis for the controversial Arizona SB 1062, a law that would have legalized discrimination against LGBT people in the state. The law was considered so extreme that prominent Republicans, including Mitt Romney and John McCain, came out against it.

Media have reported that DeWine’s pledge could undermine anti-discrimination laws in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Canton, Athens, and other cities. Given the rapid shift sweeping the country striking down marriage bans, DeWine’s pledge to attack anti-discrimination laws is particularly out of touch.

This week, DeWine was called out for his extreme views at the Akron Press Club. He tried to deny his own pledge, saying, “We don’t reach out and say we’re going to impact local laws.”

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

“When DeWine talks to his extremist allies, he pledges to undermine local protections for LGBT and other Ohioans, but when he’s at a public forum in front of the press, he pretends otherwise. It’s time for Mike DeWine to stop talking out of both sides of his mouth and explain why he wants to subject Ohioans to legalized discrimination.”



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign responded to Mike DeWine’s attempts to downplay his involvement in his office’s pay-to-play and bid-rigging scandal. In defending himself against allegations that his office is engaged in rampant pay-to-play activity, DeWine claimed to the Youngstown Vindicator that the decisions on who gets selected for lucrative contracts are made “way, way below” him in the Attorney General’s Office.

However, official documents and newspaper investigations have shown that DeWine has been directly involved in the decision making since he started as Attorney General. 

First, emails obtained in the past two years and highlighted by news organizations show that AG DeWine directly refers donors to be considered for work, arranges meetings for those donors, and intervenes to help them in other ways.

Second, with two weeks left in a 2012 bidding process, DeWine met with his chief political fundraiser in the Attorney General’s OfficeDocuments show that DeWine and his fundraiser were reviewing the list of bidders in that active bidding window.

“Investigations have proven that DeWine was directly involved in the pay-to-play activity that dominates his office,” said Peter Koltak, Pepper’s Communications Director. “Misleading the media and the voters in the face of overwhelming evidence only further erodes the credibility of a deeply tainted office.”



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper made the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up cases from five states whose marriage bans had been struck down by federal appellate courts as unconstitutional:

“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.” 

Pepper also called on DeWine to rescind his extreme position of pledging to “work actively to revoke” laws around Ohio that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (Source: Cincinnati Right to Life SurveyQ. 13):

“Cities across Ohio have passed laws making clear that they do not tolerate discrimination within their boundaries. Mr. DeWine’s outrageous pledge to revoke those laws is another example of his extreme personal ideological views inappropriately driving the agenda of the Attorney General’s Office.”

 Last week, Outlook Magazine announced its endorsement of David Pepper, saying, “David Pepper will be an attorney general who puts our state on the side of freedom, equality and justice. In doing so, he’ll put Ohio on the right side of history.”



CINCINNATI – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, issued the following statement in support of members of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association that are picketing the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

“Prison safety isn’t just about protecting the people working in our prisons, but about keeping surrounding communities safe as well. As recent escapes have shown, failure to adequately secure our prisons can put Ohioans at risk. State officials should sit down and work with their employees to make Ohio’s prisons safer.”

OCSEA, which represents Ohio corrections officers, is picketing to protest budget changes that have cut corrections officers, eliminated exterior perimeter patrols, and created numerous problems with outside food service providers.


Top 10: With Friends Like These

Friends –

You win some, you lose some.

And from the Fraternal Order of Police, to the Toledo Blade, to the Athens News, to Columbus Outlook, to Ohio’s teachers, we are proud to have received numerous endorsements in this race, which we will continue to share with you.

But we’re also pleased by the endorsements we didn’t receive, and frankly, didn’t expect to receive. Why, you might ask?

Because even DeWine’s supporters are echoing the very things we’ve been saying all campaign…sometimes in very harsh terms. In fact, DeWine’s own supporters have made the case to replace him with new leadership as strongly as we have!

So we thought you’d enjoy our current Top 10 quotes from those who SUPPORT Mike DeWine:

Top 10 Quotes from DeWine Supporters

10. “It took too long…for DeWine’s office to acknowledge in 2013 that it had launched facial recognition software to search Ohio driver’s license photos without notifying Ohioans, and was allowing too many public employees access to the technology.” – Findlay Courier

9. Dewine’s refusal to debate is “an insult to voters” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

8. “DeWine is a work in progress” with “flaws” and “blind spots” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

7. There’s been “too much political gamesmanship from [DeWine] in the past four years.” – Newark Advocate

6. “He’s interjected himself in far too many cases outside of the state and faced intense scrutiny on the awarding of contracts from his office.” – Newark Advocate

5. DeWine’s recent actions were “contrary to the public records law and also aggravated an already volatile situation” – Newark Advocate

4. DeWine’s procurement process “certainly creates the perception of pay-to-play despite DeWine’s angry protestations that he follows the law” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

3. On “DeWine’s proclivity to file amicus briefs in cases that have no direct bearing on Ohio.” …“DeWine argues that he files these amicus briefs in cases that he believes could impact Ohio, but that is a specious argument…They simply mirror his religious beliefs. The office of the AG — as Pepper argues — needs to operate above the political fray. This type of battleground litigation hurts the credibility of an office that needs to act on facts, not faith.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

2. DeWine “made a mockery of Ohio Sunshine Laws” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

1. “DeWine’s three-year wait to have the first meeting of a heroin task force, which took place last week. Pepper rightly chides him for waiting until the election cycle to convene a task force for a problem that emerged before he took office.” – Newark Advocate

So together, DeWine’s supporters have said: that he violated Ohio law, that he only responded to the state’s top public safety crisis in an election year, that he insulted Ohio’s voters, that he inappropriately entered partisan cases around the country for personal reasons, and that he appears to be running a pay-to-play operation.

To see how we can do better on all these and other issues, see our plans and proposals at



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

Pepper raised $301,831.52 for the period. Pepper has raised $3,131,560.39 from 5,018 individual contributors since launching his campaign.

“With over 5,000 contributors, our bipartisan fundraising strength continues to show Ohioans are ready 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.”



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, backed calls for an independent investigation of a sexual harassment case in the AG’s office. Yesterday, State Representatives Nickie Antonio and Nick Celebrezze introduced legislation authorizing an independent investigation into “any wrongful acts or omissions made in the course of addressing allegations of sexual harassment.

Pepper made the following statement in support of the legislation:

“In 2014, an Attorney General should know better than to personally interfere in a sexual harassment investigation, particularly when the accused is allegedly a close personal friend. Mr. DeWine failed to set an appropriate standard for conducting these investigations and refuses to provide clear answers to outstanding questions. An independent investigation is justified in this case.”

An AG’s office intern reported being sexually harassed by a senior male staffer who was a personal friend of Mike DeWine. Throughout the course of investigation, a confidential witness approached the office’s internal investigator. Despite the investigator’s objections, DeWine forced the investigator to turn over the confidential witness’s name. DeWine met with the witness, but made no record of their conversation. The investigation closed a few days later.

Experts interviewed by Ohio media have condemned DeWine for interfering in the investigation, saying his actions could be seen as “trying to shape witness testimony” and could have “a chilling effect on future informants.”



CLEVELAND – To mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, spoke to the City Club of Cleveland today about his plan to make the Ohio Attorney General a leader in preventing violence against women.

Pepper made the following statement:

“It shouldn’t take an NFL scandal and a brutal surveillance tape for us to take violence against women seriously. At a time when an estimated one in four Ohio women have faced domestic violence, the Attorney General must be a leader on both preventing violence and cracking down on abusers.”

The appearance was in lieu of a debate with Mike DeWine, who refused the City Club’s invitation to appear.

Earlier this year, Pepper announced a plan to deal with violence against women in Ohio that calls for greater focus on prevention, enforcement, and justice for victims.

Amongst other proposals, Pepper will fight to expand Ohio’s domestic violence laws to cover coercion and other forms of control that are a clear prelude to violence, to make clear that strangulation is a felony, and ensure the federal ban on gun possession for convicted domestic abusers is enforced.

Pepper will also create a Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Unit to assist with sexual assault prosecutions and implement best practices around the state, to urge aggressive enforcement of laws requiring citizens to report felonies they witness, and to ensure Ohio’s colleges and universities are adopting policies to keep women safe from campus assaults. Finally, Pepper will replenish and reform the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund, will greatly broaden access to services and critical information for victims, and will work with local crime labs to accelerate testing of the growing rape kit backlog.

Northwestern University Prof. Margaret B. Drew, a national expert on domestic violence, made the following statement about Pepper’s plan:

“David Pepper’s plan for addressing violence against women is the first comprehensive plan for Ohio to assist women who experience domestic and sexual violence. Pepper’s plan addresses the many systemic and personal barriers that survivors have in escaping and recovering from gender violence.”

“His plan calls on all of us to assist the state in preventing violence against woman and assisting those who are the targets of the violence.”

The full plan is available at 



CLEVELAND – Yesterday, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, signed a pledge to run a clean AG’s office. The pledge contains six specific steps that would be taken to ensure that merit drives the Attorney General’s decision-making, not massive campaign contributions.

Pepper made the following statement challenging Mike DeWine to join him in signing the pledge:

“The Attorney General is the first line of defense against corruption, but he must demonstrate the highest level of public integrity to be able to do the job. The steps in this pledge are common sense, and they will create much-needed transparency and accountability in the AG’s office. I hope Mr. DeWine will join me in signing it.”

Over the past year, newspaper investigations have revealed a disturbing pattern of pay-to-play and bid-rigging in how DeWine’s office awards special counsel contracts. DeWine and the Ohio GOP have raised more than $2.5 million from lawyers, firms, and vendors seeking business with DeWine’s office.

Many of the donations came during or around open bid windows, and there is an almost perfect correlation between who donates and who is selected to do the work.  Experts across the country have criticized DeWine’s pay-to-play operations with one editorial calling DeWine’s fundraising “troubling” and demanding a “truly transparent and accountable system for making and tracking these selections.”


Click here to read the Clean AG’s Office Pledge


COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper’s campaign responded to Mike DeWine’s announcement that he was creating an Overdose Task Force to “address issues regarding the real-time reporting of drug overdose deaths in Ohio.” In November 2013, alarmed at how long it took DeWine to discover the heroin crisis in the first place, David Pepper called for the Attorney General’s Office to upgrade its ability to analyze overdose data in real-time to improve Ohio’s response to the heroin epidemic.

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

“David Pepper proposed upgrading Ohio’s ability to analyze heroin overdose data nearly a year ago. While we’re happy DeWine finally noticed the problem, the fact that it took so long demonstrates that DeWine is simply overmatched by the heroin crisis. Ohio families continue to pay the price for DeWine’s lethargic response to the heroin epidemic.”

In April, Pepper released a comprehensive strategy for battling Ohio’s heroin epidemic that includes ideas for real-time data analysis.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               November 20, 2013 


Slow Response to Heroin Epidemic Shows Need for Modernization

CINCINNATI – David Pepper, the Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General, pledged to modernize the system of compiling and analyzing statewide crime and public safety data after it became clear this week that Mike DeWine’s office declared a heroin epidemic based on data from several years ago that wasn’t compiled until last month (and is still incomplete).*

“Mike DeWine declared a heroin epidemic two years after the epidemic actually began in our communities,” Pepper said. “If we are going to respond to crises as they are starting, rather than years too late, we must modernize our system of data collection, sharing and analyses.

“With the technology available in 2013, it’s simply inexcusable to make decisions on public safety crises based on outdated, after-the-fact and incomplete data gathering,” Pepper said. “We need real-time analysis to support real-time crime fighting and public safety.”

A key driver of public safety improvements across the country has been the analysis of real-time data to track crime trends as they occur, and deploy resources accordingly.  Comstat in New York City, and Citistat and Statestat, in Baltimore and Maryland, are two of the most high-profile examples of these successful systems.  As a City Councilmember and County Commissioner with a track record of fighting crime, Pepper has personally toured and observed some of these best practices in action.

“We will bring these best practices to Ohio, which will increase safety, improve our response, and provide needed support to local law enforcement efforts,” Pepper said.

*According to the AG’s release, “the decision to create the [new heroin] unit was made after new data gathered by the Attorney General’s Office in the past month revealed a 107 percent increase in heroin deaths among more than half of Ohio’s counties.”

But the “new” data covered 2010-2012, and doesn’t cover dozens of Ohio counties.