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Scandal at City Hall boosts anti-corruption amendments to 3-to-1 approval

CINCINNATI — Two anti-corruption proposals passed handily Tuesday on Cincinnati's primary ballot, each scoring approval by a margin of more than three-to-one.

Brought before voters after a string of corruption scandals at City Hall, both ballot measures -- Issues 1 and 2 -- were procedural and sought to change the ways City Council can deal with a member who has come under indictment, along with installing other ethics requirements of its members.

IN-DEPTH: What exactly are Issue 1 and Issue 2 about?

With all precincts reporting, the unofficial count showed 76.8% of voters approved Issue 1, while 23.3% opposed it. The measure will mean, once indicted, a member can no longer change their pre-designated replacement, should they be suspended. It also allows the city's attorney to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case on the city's behalf.

Issue 2 took a slightly wider margin at the polls, with 77.4% for and 22.6% against. It also takes a slightly sharper tack by allowing members of City Council to suspend a member brought under indictment, which currently requires a lengthy court process.

The measure also requires council members to undergo ethics training and reiterates Issue 1's provision that a member under indictment cannot change their successor if they are suspended.

Between February 2020 and last month, four sitting members of City Council came under indictment in either county or federal court. Federal agents arrested former member Tamaya Dennard and now-suspended members Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld over the course of last year, accusing them of soliciting or taking bribes in exchange for votes or favor on development deals.

A grand jury indicted Councilman Wendell Young last month on felony charges, accusing him of tampering with evidence related to the "Gang of Five" texting scandal of 2018.

Previous reporting by WCPO 9 News reporter Mariel Carbone contributed to this story.




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