What they’re saying: Pepper “Smart,” “Energetic”

Friends –

As Communications Director, you don’t hear from me often. But I wanted to check in and let you know what I see happening in the press.

The media is noticing something: there’s a clear choice in the race for AG and David is it.

Last Thursday, the Athens News enthusiastically endorsed David, calling him a “smart and energetic candidate of integrity who will upgrade an office that’s been vulnerable to special interests.” They specifically cited David’s detailed plans to battle Ohio’s heroin epidemic, protecting young people, and preventing domestic violence and sexual assault as reasons Ohioans should support him.

At the same time, Ohio media is noticing how Mike DeWine is failing Ohioans, from his handling of the Beavercreek Walmart shooting to his endless crusade against Ohioans’ right to vote.


When it comes to the tragic situation in Beavercreek, the Cincinnati Enquirer said DeWine has “failed both in his duty to serve all citizens equally and in his responsibility to uphold Ohio law.”

Toledo Blade

The Toledo Blade went even further, saying DeWine “exhibited poor judgment” and “failed miserably in his duties as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

And the Cleveland Plain Dealer demanded that DeWine drop his “pointless” defense of voter suppression laws that would “limit, illegally, Ohioans’ opportunities to vote—especially black Ohioans’ voting opportunities.”

We’ve made great progress, but you can’t win an election in the press. We need your help to keep up the fight.

Make no mistake – the momentum is on our side. With your continued support, we can win in November.


Peter Koltak
Communications Director



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to stay the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and reinstate restrictions on early voting, including Golden Week. Voting across Ohio was scheduled to begin at 8 am tomorrow morning.

“With all the serious problems Ohio faces, it’s incredible that Mr. DeWine feels most threatened by the fact that Ohioans were going to begin voting tomorrow,” Pepper said. “Ohioans deserve better than an Attorney General who works as hard as he can to stop voting while leaving so many important issues unresolved.”

Last week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer called on DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted to drop their “pointless” appeal of voting-rights rulings by lower federal courts saying:

“Ohio should afford voters the broadest opportunity to exercise a right that patriots, black and white, have died to protect. If Husted and DeWine respect those sacrifices, they’ll back off and let General Assembly Republicans shame themselves on their own.”



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]

It shouldn’t take a video…

Friends –

Recent weeks have shown just how much work we have to do nationally to combat violence against women. Not just the violence itself…but a culture that too often looks the other way.

It shouldn’t take a videotape to raise alarm bells and prompt us to take action against violence that we know occurs every day, everywhere.

As Attorney General, I will make sure that is the case.

That’s why I have laid out a plan to take on violence against women with the first comprehensive, proactive plan of its kind in Ohio.

In the plan, we have laid out a way to accelerate the testing of old rape kits to bring thousands of women the justice they have awaited for years. The current pace of testing—300 per month—is simply far too slow a response to a decades-long injustice, where thousands of rape kits remain on shelves throughout the state.

We will make sure there is zero tolerance for violence against young women on our college campuses, and we will fight to get guns out of the homes of convicted abusers.

I will fight hard to change a culture of looking the other way when women are victims of crime, and I will broaden the availability of victim assistance programs across Ohio.

We will take on discrimination and harassment whenever they occur, including in the Attorney General’s office itself, something Mike DeWine has failed to do.

And we will stop wasting your time and money fighting anti-women lawsuits such as Mike DeWine’s Hobby Lobby crusade against birth control around the country, and put this office back on the side of Ohio women’s rights.

But we need your help to get this done.

Help us spread the word that Ohio can have an Attorney General who will stand up for women. Join our Women for Pepper team today—and tell other women about how this office can be on their side.




COLUMBUS – David Pepper’s campaign released the following statement regarding oral arguments being held today in a critical case involving charter schools, Hope Academy Broadway Campus, et. al v. White Hat Management, at the Ohio Supreme Court. The case will determine whether private, for-profit charter operators are entitled to permanently keep property, supplies and other equipment purchased with taxpayer dollars.

In previous filings at the 10th District Court of Appeals, the Attorney General’s Office argued vigorously against White Hat, saying that its position violated Ohio law and risked tax dollars. Inexplicably, DeWine dropped out of the case at the Ohio Supreme Court.  Operators are attempting to keep property purchased with taxpayer dollars, even when their schools fail and students must be sent elsewhere. Currently, millions of dollars are missing across Ohio from failed charter schools.

White Hat Management and other entities associated with its founder, David Brennan, are major GOP donors in Ohio.

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

“Ohio’s for-profit charter school system is a disaster, but rather than stand with taxpayers today, DeWine abandoned them. It’s a sad state of affairs when the Attorney General will go to Washington to fight for Hobby Lobby’s right to deny birth control to women, but won’t stand up for taxpayers here in Ohio.”



COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, endorsed legislation introduced by State Rep. Kathleen Clyde and State. Sen. Nina Turner that would create an Address Confidentiality Program in the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

The program would allow survivors of domestic violence who continue to fear abuse, stalking, or harassment to receive placeholder addresses for correspondence with government agencies. A survivor’s true address would remain secret, allowing the survivor to continue to engage in normal life while lowering the risk of being discovered by the abuser.

David Pepper made the following statement:

“Domestic violence survivors have suffered enough without having to give up anything else, like their right to vote, in order to keep their abusers at bay.  Creating an address confidentiality program will help normalize life as much as possible for survivors.  I wholeheartedly endorse Rep. Clyde and Sen. Turner’s legislation and urge the General Assembly to take it up immediately.”



COLUMBUS – In honor of Throwback Thursday, David Pepper’s campaign released the following statement highlighting Mike DeWine’s 1986 vote in support of President Reagan’s veto of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. The bipartisan legislation was designed to force South Africa to end apartheid, a brutal system of legalized racial segregation.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to override Reagan’s veto and pass the act. A majority of both Democrats and Republicans voted to enforce the sanctions, including notable members such as Newt Gingrich and John Kasich.

In fact, DeWine was one of only 83 members of Congress and one of only four Ohioans to vote to protect South Africa from the sanctions.

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

“There are some votes you just shouldn’t get wrong. Some judgment calls that simply place you forever on the wrong side of history. Mike DeWine voting to protect South Africa’s Apartheid regime was one of those votes.”

“As DeWine loses case after case on basic constitutional voting rights and fights to erase the valid marriage of an Ohioan who died almost a year ago, his fundamental judgment on the big issues remains in question.”



CINCINNATI –  Today, Peter Koltak, Communications Director for Democratic Attorney General Candidate David Pepper, made the following response to Mike DeWine’s visit to Oak Hill Local Schools in Cincinnati to discuss the heroin crisis:

“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. Ohio deserves serious leadership, which is why David Pepper has a comprehensive strategy to beat the heroin epidemic that focuses on expanding treatment, increasing prevention programs in schools and communities, and holding dealers responsible when they cause overdose deaths.”


  • DeWine failed to speak publicly about Ohio’s heroin epidemic until November 2013, years after the crisis began.
  • DeWine failed to speak out against $20 million in state cuts to funding for heroin and other addiction treatment services that went into effect July 1st. Those cuts will mean a loss of $1.8 million in treatment funding for Hamilton County this fiscal year.
  • DeWine’s office has done little more than host a series of town hall meetings about the crisis, which one Ohio newspaper referred to as “little more than a pep talk.”
  • In April, Pepper released a comprehensive heroin plan, the only statewide candidate to release such a plan.




COLUMBUS  – Today, David Pepper’s campaign responded to the latest excuse from Mike DeWine for his failure to speed up the testing of old rape kits in the Attorney General’s Office.

DeWine told the Columbus Dispatch that Pepper’s proposal to share responsibility for rape kits tests with local crime labs would be cost prohibitive while the current system of testing kits only through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is “free.” However, spending at BCI has increased from $56.3 million in FY 2011 to $63.7 million in FY 2014 and is estimated to pass $69 million in FY 2015. DeWine has expanded spending on DNA testing to accommodate some old rape kits, including hiring new BCI lab personnel.

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

“It’s absurd for DeWine to claim that rape kit testing is free when he has increased BCI spending to cover the costs of the testing his office is already doing. This is about priorities, and if DeWine had his straight, he’d spend less of his time and budget fighting birth control across the country and devote more to testing rape kits here in Ohio.”

The backlog of old rape kits collected as part of the AG’s Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative has grown for 11 straight months as DeWine’s office has received more old kits every month than it is capable of testing.

Pepper’s plan would share the work with local crime labs, which would both accelerate the testing as well as save dollars by getting many of them out of the costly BCI bottleneck.

Rape Kit Backlog



Can you believe this? Mike DeWine says justice is too expensive

I think we can all agree on one thing: justice for survivors of sexual assault shouldn’t be a matter of pinching pennies.

You may have noticed that throughout this campaign, a major issue has been the testing of old rape kits. Due to years of neglect, there are thousands of these kits across Ohio that need to be tested. To his credit, DeWine has started to test some of them, but at 300 kits per month, the process is going far too slowly.

In fact, the number of rape kits sitting on shelves in DeWine’s office waiting to be tested has grown for 11 straight months, and now sits at more than 4,000, with thousands more to come in. That’s unacceptable, and it means thousands of women will wait years longer for justice.


With thousands of old rape kits continuing to pile up, we need to do better. That’s why David announced his plan to share this work with Ohio’s local crime labs to speed up the rate of testing.

Here’s the outrageous part: Mike DeWine now says we can’t bring justice faster to rape survivors because it’s just too expensive.

The good news? DeWine’s not even right on his facts. These local labs are eager to help. By working together, we actually can do this work at a lower cost and process every rape kit faster.

Sadly, DeWine is just making excuses for letting this problem get so out of hand.

There are less than 50 days left in this campaign, and we need your help to spread the word that David has a plan to speed up justice for survivors of sexual assault.

With your help, we can do it.