Chief Justice Candidates

 

Chief-justice candidates face campaign complaints

Thursday, June 24, 2010 02:53 AM
By James Nash
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The Ohio Supreme Court chief justice and his opponent in the November election now are both the targets of disciplinary complaints alleging that they violated judicial-ethics rules in their campaigns for office.

Chief Justice Eric Brown, whom Gov. Ted Strickland appointed in April, is accused of personally soliciting money for his campaign in violation of a judicial-conduct rule.

Justice Maureen O'Connor, a Republican challenging Brown in the race for chief justice, is accused of endorsing another judicial candidate despite a rule barring political endorsements by judges.

Each complaint was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel by the rival political party.

In addition, the Ohio Democratic Party yesterday accused Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, a Republican up for re-election, of also violating the ban on political endorsements.

The party's complaint says that O'Connor and Lanzinger endorsed each other - using cutesy language that stopped just short of an actual endorsement - at several judicial forums even though conduct rules forbid judges from publicly backing candidates.

"We are not allowed, as members of the judiciary, to endorse one another or any other campaign, so I would not tell you how much I would endorse Justice Lanzinger if I could," O'Connor said at a political breakfast in Ashtabula County in February, according to the Democratic Party's complaint.

At a political dinner in June, Lanzinger said her family will vote for O'Connor, the complaint alleges.

"The fact that Justices O'Connor and Lanzinger clearly made endorsements under the guise of not endorsing makes their behavior particularly reprehensible," Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern wrote in the complaint. "These were not inadvertent slip-ups in the heat of the moment."

Read more here.