Jeff Fusco, Chair
Summit County Democratic Party
REPUBLICAN JUDICIAL CANDIDATES MISLEAD VOTERS AND MAY HAVE VIOLATED JUDICIAL CODE OF CONDUCT
For Immediate Release
October 31, 2014 – Akron, OH – The Summit County Democratic Party condemns repeated attempts by Republican Judicial Candidates to mislead voters in both campaign literature and advertisements.
The pieces, which contain the language, “Names you Know and Trust,” clearly endorse the candidates as a team. Endorsements of this nature violate Rule 4.1(A)(3) of Ohio’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that judicial candidates may not endorse each other or other candidates. Similar problematic language has appeared in print ads, such as one recently appearing in the West Side Leader, and in mailed literature.
“This is a classic play from the Republican handbook,” said Summit County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Fusco. “Attempting to win by confusing, misleading, and disenfranchising voters. We expect this from some but not from judicial candidates.” The violations began several weeks ago, when Republican volunteers began passing out what they describe as “Independent” or “Non-Partisan” Judicial Sample Ballots that only contain candidates vetted in the Republican Primary and endorsed by the Republican Party. Upon asking if the candidates on the ballot were Democrats, many early voters, including undercover Democratic Party Officers, have been told by the volunteers that they “didn’t know” or that the candidates were “Independents.” However, when asked separately if the candidates were Republicans, the answer was always “yes.”
“Citizens who find themselves in front of a judge should be able to trust that the judge will be a fair and honest professional who respects both the dignity of those they serve and the office they hold,” said Fusco. “This behavior only serves to destroy confidence in the judiciary and lessen confidence in the legal profession. At the end of the day, we all need to ask ourselves: What kind of candidate is worth fundamentally misleading voters in order to see them get elected?”
This information comes to light just as Republican judicial candidates Todd McKenney and Beth Whitmore have had their Akron Bar Association ratings downgraded for misusing the ABA’s “judicial rating system in… advertising” in a way that the ABA determined “misleading to the voting public.”
The Summit County Democratic Party has been distributing clearly marked sample ballots of its own ahead of the election, which takes place on November 4th.