Pepper Levels 'Pay-To-Play' Charges Against Ohio AG DeWine

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UPDATED: Monday February 3, 2014 5:27 PM

Democratic candidate for Ohio Attorney General David Pepper says lawmakers should ask for an investigation into whether Republican incumbent Mike DeWine has broken any laws in awarding state contracts.

"I think it is appropriate that the legislature ask the US Attorney to look into this," said Pepper.  "I think there are a lot of red flags here.  The lack of any standards.  The timing.  The sheer amount of the money.  The correlation between who gives and who receives work.  That's for the US Attorney to look into."

Pepper says DeWine has engaged in a pattern of "pay-to-play" including appointing people to a securities litigation advisory panel after they contributed to help pay down his 2010 campaign debt.

"There was clearly some frenzy to pay back what was an enormous, maybe unprecedented, loan in the state of Ohio," said Pepper.  "It very well could have contributed to the fundraising we're seeing from these firms."

During his 2010 campaign against then incumbent Attorney General Richard Cordray, DeWine loaned his campaign a record $2 million.

According to the Dayton Daily News, firms or companies seeking to do business with the attorney general's office have donated over a million dollars to DeWine's campaign.

DeWine says there is nothing unusual or illegal there.

"That was a loan to my campaign, many other candidates do the same thing and it's not unusual," said DeWine.  "It's perfectly legal under Ohio law.  None of us like to raise money, but we know we have to so we can buy the commercials and run a campaign."

DeWine dismisses Pepper's allegations and suggests the former Hamilton County Commissioner is engaging in hypocrisy.

"We follow the law and have total transparency," said DeWine.  "Any information about contracts is available to the public and to the media.  It's kind of ironic that when he (Pepper) was giving contracts as a commissioner he never saw it as a problem to take contributions and give out contracts."

Pepper said if he were elected he would create more transparency and release the names of all attorneys and firms doing contract work for Ohio.

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