In a campaign for Ohio's top law-enforcement job, do parking tickets, and paying some late, matter?
Not surprisingly, the campaigns of Democrat David Pepper, who racked up about 180 tickets over 14 years, and his Republican opponent, Attorney General Mike DeWine, who had none but usually has had government drivers, feel very differently about the subject.
Pepper, a practicing lawyer, paid $9,229 in fines for 182 violations, including about a dozen for expired license plates, over a 14-year period, the Associated Press found in reviewing Hamilton County records. His most recent ticket was on July 3, for which he paid a $90 fine.
The Dispatch asked the campaigns: "Do parking tickets matter in a campaign for attorney general (even a lot of them), or are they irrelevant when other big issues are on the agenda?"
DeWine campaign spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch said: "While it's no doubt common to receive an occasional parking ticket, racking up 182 tickets, nearly $10,000 in fines, and over 165 delinquency notices shows a stunning disregard for basic laws. David Pepper and Ed FitzGerald are asking voters to elect them to run Ohio and uphold its laws, but they demonstrate remarkable hypocrisy in their inability to follow the law themselves."
Meanwhile, Pepper spokesman Pete Koltak said: "Mike DeWine has given millions of dollars of government contracts to his biggest donors and has even been caught rigging a bid for a friend. We think David's agenda to build stronger, safer communities and clean up DeWine's corrupt contracting practices will matter more to voters than a recycled story about old, paid parking tickets."
For months, Democrats have been accusing DeWine of giving lucrative state contracts to political friends. DeWine denies the allegations.
Pepper was ticketed while maintaining a "very hectic schedule" as a Hamilton County commissioner and Cincinnati City Council member, Koltak said. He paid all fines.
Stubenrauch said DeWine has not received a ticket of any kind for many years. However, DeWine has almost continuously been in public office for three decades, including terms in the U.S. Senate and House and as lieutenant governor. He had a driver for much of that period.
By Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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