Pepper, DeWine Trade Barbs As Political Season Kicks Into Gear

Feb 7, 2014

David Pepper is officially in the race against Republican incumbent Mike DeWine for Ohio's next attorney general, and he has harsh words for his his opponent. Pepper is using a recent report by the Dayton Daily News as ammunition; it found several instances where DeWine received campaign contributions from law firms seeking state work. The Democrat says this is evidence of a "pay-to-play" system. Emily McCord spoke with Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow who says the accusation is igniting a political volley between the two candidates.

Chow reports that Pepper is proposing changes to the process that chooses how law firms are selected for state work. It includes more transparency over which firms were doing work for the attorney general's office, clear guidelines about how the applications would be judged, and would create a panel that would review all applications for that state work. Chow says Pepper would also implement a window of time during the application process that would ban contributions.

DeWine has fired back and told Chow in an interview this week some of Pepper's proposal is already in place and that he takes issue with Pepper's legal panel suggestion, saying this could create attorney-client conflicts. DeWine says his office has followed the rule of law.

“David Pepper really is probably the most unqualified—person with a lack of qualifications—of anybody in my lifetime ever to run for attorney general,” DeWine told Chow. “He’s never prosecuted a case, has precious little experience in any kind of serious litigation in a courtroom. So I think this just shows, frankly, his lack of knowledge and understanding about the office.”

Chow says it's unclear whether the accusations against DeWine will cause any permanent political damage. Pepper and Democrats are seeking an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to review if any laws have been broken.

Correction: The on-air broadcast referred to the gubernatorial campaign of Mike DeWine's son. Pat DeWine in fact ran for Hamilton County Appellate Court judge in 2012, which he won.