Mayor Michael Coleman is providing information to federal officials, but there is little he is saying publicly.
The mayor made his first public appearance today since allegations that executives of the city’s red light camera vendor bribed Columbus elected officials surfaced. At a press conference being held to rename a city fire station in honor of former Safety Director Mitchell Brown, the mayor was tight lipped.
"Let me just say this. I will have more to say about this later,” Coleman said.
It was the common refrain from Mayor Coleman - as he declined to comment - for now - on the federal bribery case alleging corruption inside Columbus City Hall.
At the event, he pledged on-going support for Council President Andrew Ginther, who thus far is the only public official to be linked through documents to the red light camera company.
On Friday, court documents were unsealed revealing the bribery scandal. Karen Finley, former CEO of Redflex, the city’s exclusive red light camera company for a decade, pleaded guilty to providing bribes to Columbus elected officials.
The federal court documents did not name who the officials are that received payment. However, the court filings cite specific campaign donations that correspond to donations made to Ginther.
The court records show the money was funneled by a lobbyist. That lobbyist was later identified as John Raphael.
In addition to his public appearance, Coleman also a public statement later in the day saying: “I, along with others, have received a request to provide documents to federal investigators and I am responding fully and completely. I encourage those who receive a request for information to cooperate as I am. While I am not the focus, I do consider these allegations to be serious. As such, I will do whatever is necessary to assist the authorities.”
Brown, the former safety director, told 10 Investigates he was not aware of any bribes.
Though the mayor acknowledged handing over documents to federal officials, his office declined to give any documents to 10 Investigates. The mayor also declined to answer whether he's seeking outside legal help.
“You know, I'll talk all about that later,” Coleman said before walking away without answering further questions.
The mayor’s press conference followed a press conference earlier in the day by one of the state’s more historic vocal opponents of the cameras - State Senator Bill Seitz.
Seitz is the legislator who wrote the law putting an end to red light cameras in Ohio.
He says it’s time for Columbus and other cities to give ticketed drivers a refund. He also called for state action to join the Federal corruption investigation.
I have encouraged some of my colleagues to call the Franklin County Prosecutor, Ron O'Brien and make sure Ron is aware of this and that he would offer whatever assistance he could offer,” Seitz said.
You can read the mayor’s statement below:
“Given the investigation and public discussion of the Redflex contract, I feel it is necessary to make the following statement:
The Department of Public Safety had the responsibility to evaluate and recommend the best option for the city. I am confident that the Department complied with the appropriate laws, rules, regulations, and city policies. I have asked the Department of Public Safety to work with the City Attorney to examine the procurement, contract, and legislative process associated with the photo red light program.
I had no involvement in the decision to award the contract to Redflex.
I, along with others, have received a request to provide documents to federal investigators and I am responding fully and completely. I encourage those who receive a request for information to cooperate as I am. While I am not the focus, I do consider these allegations to be serious. As such, I will do whatever is necessary to assist the authorities.
It is important that the federal investigators are provided with the appropriate information so that all of the facts come out, so that justice can be served.”