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Government and Politics

Ohio Attorney General Dewine and his challenger, David Pepper, spar over conflict-of-interest in a criminal case
Democratic Attorney General candidate David Pepper says AG Mike DeWine should remove himself from prosecuting a fraud case involving a donor

Jo Ingles
Attorney General Mike DeWine says that he has no intention to recuse himself.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
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In The Region:
The Democrat who wants to be Ohio’s next attorney general says the state’s current AG should remove himself from a case that involves a man accused of bilking millions of dollars meant for veterans.
LISTEN: Jo Ingles reports on the possibility of Attorney General Mike DeWine recusing himself

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The case involves a man who called himself Bobby Thompson and is accused of scamming millions of dollars that were solicited 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.

“Mike DeWine handles many cases right now, including Steubenville (rape case), 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 to be independent.’

Pepper says follow the money
"The contribution from the defendant to the attorney general  ... has never been returned," he added. And Pepper says similar contributions from the man who's real name is John Donald Cody also went to many of DeWine's colleagues and that former Attorney General Betty Montgomery -- a key on DeWine's transition team -- "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 multi-million-dollar case that was started years ago by former Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat, 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 Cody made and only going after Cody himself.

“This would be like prosecuting Watergate as a breaking and entering (case) ... You wouldn’t just carve out the non-political part and prosecute that. You would look at the whole picture.”

DeWine says that doesn't fit
“You know if David Pepper tried or prosecuted any cases, he would know that’s not a good analogy at all,” responds DeWine. He says the Thompson case involves millions of dollars and the political contributions are only a small part of the expenditures. 

In “the initial investigation by Democrat Richard Cordray, the grand jury did not see fit to indict any of the recipients of the money. We’ve seen no evidence that would indicate there’s any conspiracy by Bobby Thompson and the people he gave money to.

"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 are focused on putting this guy away for a long, long time and they frankly are going to use whatever evidence is relevant.”

DeWine says he has no intention of removing himself from the case.

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