In an exclusive video interview Tuesday at Ohio Democratic Headquarters in downtown Columbus, David Pepper confronts incumbent first-term Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine for failing to act on the many scandals that became public last week, when four teachers who taught at Horizon charters schools in the Dayton-area brought their first-hand testimony to the Ohio Board of Education.
Pepper provided this exclusive comment following the regularly scheduled press conference at which he lambasted Ohio’s current attorney general, elected in 2010 along with other Republicans who won office with the help from Tea Party activists, for what he said called “revelations of unprecedented pay-to-play politics” occurring in the Attorney General’s Office.
One of Ohio’s Big Eight newspapers revealed last Sunday that Mike DeWine has taken $1.36 million from attorneys and vendors who receive contracts for debt collection work from his office, with firms contributing $500,000 around the time their proposals were being considered. The expose also showed that DeWine has also reviewed bids with his campaign fundraiser at the time the bids were under consideration.
“This current situation is, frankly, unacceptable,” Pepper said of Mike DeWines lack of interest in stories about misfeasance or even malfeasance in Ohio’s charter school industry that could constitute illegal or abusive behavior. Pepper said he’ll hold these school accountable, and promised to use the Office of Attorney General to to work with local prosecutors in order to the bottom of this situation, specifically, but more broader issues related to the industry’s poor performance as measured by other criteria.
Pepper, a former Hamilton County Commissioner engaged in his second run for statewide office, said no one knows where the money flowing to charter schools from state coffers has gone. “I’ll hold these schools far more accountable to collect millions that are lost, we don’t know where they are,” he said, vowing to “crack down on this whole situation.” Pepper says he’ll be a “watchdog for parents and communities.” Grinding DeWine through his mill, Pepper said, “I’m amazed by the silence of Mike DeWine,” whom he said has said nothing about the Dayton-area charter school scandal.
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