Friday, September 20, 2013 at 5:47 PM
The Democrat who wants to be Ohio’s next attorney general says the incumbent Mike DeWine should recuse himself from a case that involves a man accused of bilking millions of dollars that were meant to help veterans. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.
The case involves a man named Bobby Thompson, who is accused of scamming millions of dollars that were solicited for a veterans group to help veterans.
Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper says records show some of that money went to prominent politicians throughout the country and Ohio—including Attorney General Mike DeWine himself.
“Mike DeWine handles many cases right now, including Steubenville, because a prosecutor said ‘I have a conflict of interest or an appearance of a conflict of interest that undermines my ability to bring this case in a way that is truly independent or is perceived as independent,’” Pepper said. “And I think when you add up not just the contribution from the defendant to the attorney general that has never been returned, but also the fact that many of the current attorney general’s colleagues have received similar contributions, and you look at the fact that the person that played a major role in his transition team, former Attorney General Betty Montgomery, was the lawyer for Mr. Thompson only a few years ago, helped him get a clean IRS audit when the IRS was looking into it. You add up all of these facts and it is a clear case where recusal is appropriate.”
DeWine is prosecuting the multimillion-dollar case that was started years ago by former Attorney General Richard Cordray, who now serves as the head of the nation’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But Pepper is taking issue with DeWine for not going after the political contributions that were made and only going after Thompson himself.
“This would be like prosecuting Watergate as a breaking-and-entering and saying we are getting the guy for breaking and entering, but we don’t want bring up the political sideshow of this,” Pepper said. “You wouldn’t just carve out the non-political part and prosecute that. You should look at the whole picture and I think they should do that.”
In response, Attorney General Mike DeWine said, “You know if David Pepper tried any cases or prosecuted any cases, he would know that’s not a good analogy at all.”
DeWine says the Thompson case involves millions of dollars and the political contributions are only a small part of the expenditures.
“The initial investigation by Democrat Richard Cordray, the grand jury did not see fit to indict any of the recipients of the money,” DeWine said. “We’ve seen no evidence that would indicate there’s any conspiracy with Bobby Thompson and the people who he gave money to. Now if there ever was any evidence, we certainly would look at it if we had jurisdiction in that area. But we have professional prosecutors. This is what they do. They’re focused on putting this guy away for a long, long time, and they going to, frankly, use whatever evidence is relevant.”
DeWine says he fully intends to prosecute the case and has no intention to recuse himself.
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