Saturday, May 11, 2002

Black presses O'Connor on campaign rules

Both running for Supreme Court

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court disagree over just how clean their clean campaign pledges should be.

        Republican Maureen O'Connor signed a pledge not to say anything bad about her opponent, to focus on what makes her qualified, and to make sure her supporters do the same.

        That's not good enough for her November opponent, Democrat Tim Black, a Municipal Court judge in Hamilton County.

        Judge Black crafted his own pledge that reprises an issue from the 2000 Supreme Court race — the involvement of special interests who spent millions independent of candidates to influence the election. Donors to those efforts do not have to be disclosed.

        He has urged Ms. O'Connor to sign a pledge that demands full disclosure of any contributors to organizations that advertise in this year's judicial elections.

        A group formed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce in 2000 spent $4 million in TV ads critical of incumbent Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick, a Democrat. She was re-elected.

        “To have clean campaigns, we cannot have secret campaigns,” Judge Black said Friday.

        Judge Black wants his opponent to further promise not to use her current office — she is the lieutenant governor — to generate press stories that will advance her campaign for the court. He wants Ms. O'Connor not to issue any press releases as lieutenant governor until after the Nov. 5 elections.

        Mark Weaver, a campaign spokesman for Ms. O'Connor, said she supports full disclosure of any organization that runs campaign ads.

        He also said Ms. O'Connor as lieutenant governor is responsible for homeland security and intends to keep the public informed.

        Mr. Weaver noted that Judge Black omitted a promise offered by Ms. O'Connor to not criticize the other candidate.

        “It is shameful for him to call his pledge a clean campaign pledge,” Mr. Weaver said.


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