COLUMBUS – At a press conference today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, responded to the latest revelations of unprecedented pay-to-play politics occurring in the Attorney General’s Office.
On Sunday, the Dayton Daily News revealed 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. DeWine also reviewed bids with his campaign fundraiser at the time the bids were under consideration. Even worse, in a 2012 bid process that was clearly rigged, DeWine gave business to a company formed only two days before the bid opened and that was founded by a major donor with no prior collections experience. Score sheets were altered in a way that allowed the unqualified bidder to secure work.
Collections have decreased each of the past two years after ten straight years of growth.
Pepper laid out his five-point plan to reform the selection process for collections vendors and special counsel.
“The process for selecting vendors for important state work has become corrupted by campaign contributions and rigged bid processes, and it must stop,” Pepper said. “With my reforms in place, Ohioans can finally have faith that millions of dollars worth of state contracts are being awarded based on merit, not money.”
Pepper’s plan calls for instituting transparent, merit-based standards for selecting special counsel and collections vendors, which will ensure the best return for taxpayers. Pepper will also bar AG staff involved with selections from meeting or discussing bids with lobbyists in the period around when bids are under consideration. Pepper will bring in collections professionals to oversee the process to ensure that bidders are judged based on performance, not politics. Finally, Pepper will institute a fundraising blackout period for bidders within two months before and after the bidding and selection process.