Mike DeWine wants to be a crime fighter but Ohio AG job isn’t it

Former US Senator Mike DeWine was defeated in 2006 for reelection and pretty much disappeared from the political scene. This election season he decided he wanted to be the Ohio Attorney General. He is running against the current holder Richard Cordray. Looking at the first campaign ad DeWine has put out proves he has no idea what the Attorney General really does and he hopes voters won’t know either.

Mike DeWine campaign advert 2010 (Alice)

It starts off with a woman named Alice in a courtroom in front of an easel and poster board. Alice’s title says Assistant Prosecutor Greene County. She says Mike DeWine started in the same courtroom as a “Tough on Crime Prosecutor” and that he put rapists, pedophiles, and murders in prison.

He may have had quite a few cases that involved rapists, pedophiles, and murders as he worked in the Prosecutors office from 1972 to 1980. He was elected County Prosecutor in 1976. Greene County Ohio is in the Dayton Metro area and has Wright Patterson AFB and Wright State University but it also has some rural areas. Xenia, the county seat only has 24,000 residents now and back in the 1970’s the county had approximately 125,000 people. By comparison the city of Columbus Ohio – the state capital had approximately 550,000 people in the 1970’s. Even today Greene County only has two court rooms so I doubt DeWine had a heavy case load and if he did he probably had more thefts and domestic disputes to settle than murders and rapes. Not to mention that DeWine hasn’t been in a court room since at least 1980 when he moved to the Ohio State Senate.

In the next segment, Alice points out on the easel that DeWine would stop corruption. Yes, an attorney general is tasked in prosecuting corruption. Okay so he knows part of the job. Or maybe he doesn’t.

In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, DeWine indicated that Cordray should have gotten involved in the corruption probe of Cuyahoga County officials including former county Auditor Frank Russo and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

“We had public corruption, which strikes at the core of the integrity of government, and for almost 10 months you sat on the sidelines,” DeWine told Cordray. “That is not my vision of how this office ought to be run.”

“There is nothing, Mike, you can identify that you would have done. . . that would have furthered the game or advanced the ball,” Cordray shot back, noting that the federal investigation was underway long before he took office. “They didn’t really want state or locals involved because they really weren’t sure where all of this led. I’ve conducted myself so as to be useful to these investigations, not to grandstand or score political points.”

Cordray could have convened the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission to establish a task force to investigate county corruption — perhaps bringing charges under state ethics laws, DeWine suggested. “This is organized crime, he could have convened a task force, he could have said that we need to be involved in this,” he said. 

Attorney General Richard Cordray, challenger Mike DeWine engage in spirited sparring at Plain Dealer interview

So Mike DeWine would want the state to stick it’s nose into a Federal corruption probe and possibly mess up federal charges just so you can say “we did something”.

Next in the campaign ad, Alice says DeWine will fix the state crime lab. The Attorney General is responsible for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) that includes the main state criminal lab. DeWine is upset over an issue with delays in DNA testing.

DeWine called the state-run crime lab “the poster child for what is wrong with state government,” saying that there are “huge delays” in processing DNA evidence. He spotlighted a Marietta rape case in which it took 11 months for DNA evidence to be processed.

The problems “didn’t start with Richard Cordray, but they have not been fixed by Richard Cordray,” DeWine said, adding that he would call for an audit and bring in experts to troubleshoot how to improve the crime lab’s efficiency.

The Ohio edition of PolitiFact checked DeWine’s statement on BCI and said it was half true:

We find that DeWine’s statement is accurate when he states that the processing of DNA evidence is currently taking “up to six months,” as at least the Marietta example far exceeds that window. Even Cordray’s own statistics show that processing of DNA evidence stretches beyond six months in about 7 percent of cases, including at least three cases not shipped to an outside lab.

But the BCI statistics Cordray’s office provided show that more than 90 times in 100 the processing time falls somewhat short of “up to” six month mark cited by DeWine. Cordray’s staff also cites records that show that the turnaround time has dropped by about one-third. That’s clearly additional contextual information not given by DeWine that tends to undercut the clear inference of his statement — that DNA cases are dragging on for long stretches of time under Cordray.

“There are currently delays of up to six months in the processing of DNA evidence at the state run crime lab.”

Maybe DeWine thinks that the crime lab should operate as fast as the ones on TV. Also an issue with DNA testing doesn’t seem enough to complain that the whole lab needs to be fixed. The lab does a lot more than DNA testing.

Back to Alice.

Next she points out DeWine will “enforce the law” which is what an Attorney General does except in Ohio the AG is focused more on state wide civil crime, state wide commercial fraud, and state appellate cases not violent crimes. Local jurisdictions deal with violent crime. The video shows DeWine standing among police officers as if he is directing them. I would be shocked if any sitting Attorney General would show up at an active crime scene and direct law enforcement personnel unless they have been called in by a local prosecutor or a court and even if that happened the AG wouldn’t show up in person.

The Special Prosecutions Unit is composed of career prosecutors who, at the request of county prosecutors, prosecute serious felony crimes throughout Ohio. The unit may be appointed by the court to serve as a special prosecutor when the county prosecutor has a conflict of interest or may assist a county prosecutor when he requests additional resources. Areas of focus include homicides, child sex offenses, white collar crime, and alleged wrongdoing by public officials.

Criminal Justice

The day to day job of the state AG is not like a local prosecutor and what cases the office works on is limited.

Of course since DeWine is a Republican he throws in a bone about “protecting jobs”. Alice tells us he won’t “kill jobs or hurt small business with endless lawsuits…”

So let me get this straight. DeWine will enforce the law except if it kills jobs or hurts small business?

Yep he is a Republican – protecting the business interests over the interests of the state.

The commercial is a great example of a GOP candidate making his or her quest for an office more important than the actual day to day operation of the position. My guess is DeWine is hoping the low information voter will assume wrongly that the Ohio Attorney General is suppose to be a tough crime fighter putting away the criminal riffraff – unless that might hurt jobs or small businesses.

By the way, the woman named Alice in the ad is Mike DeWine’s daughter so of course she has no bias at all.