Friday, July 18, 2003

Hearing today for Middletown lawyer



By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Middletown lawyer accused of violating ethical rules during his unsuccessful 2002 campaign for a Butler County judgeship is set for a state disciplinary hearing in Columbus today. The Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline alleges that Gerhard "Gary" H. Kaup falsely implied he had previous experience as a Common Pleas judge, improperly stated how he would treat certain types of offenders, and declared he was "endorsed" by the "Neighborhood Protection Council," an organization that actually was his own campaign committee.

The state board will recommend to the Supreme Court what discipline, if any, is appropriate.

Kaup made an unsuccessful bid in the Butler Republican primary in May 2002 for a new Common Pleas judgeship. On Thursday, he declined to comment on the allegations. However, Kaup did make written replies denying the accusations and offering explanations.

In those documents, Kaup noted that Chris A. Wunnenberg III, a campaign manager for one of his opponents, Dan Warncke, lodged the complaints.

A public-relations firm had suggested that naming Kaup's campaign committee the "Neighborhood Protection Council for Gary Kaup" might generate more interest in his campaign literature, Kaup said. A required disclosure on the literature inadvertently substituted the word, "supporting," in place of the word, "for," Kaup said.

The disciplinary board said the literature "falsely publicized that there was some viable and independent organization that had reviewed (Kaup's) credentials and 'endorsed' his candidacy for judge."

The board also took issue with a letter in which Kaup, a former Butler County assistant prosecutor, told fellow Republicans he "has the Common Pleas Court experience." That statement, the board said, "implies that he has served as a judge and is false."

Further, Kaup's letter declared that sex offenders and child-attackers were "at the top of Kaup's crime-fighting agenda" - and that "he will not speak softly and he will carry a big legal stick." Such statements violate rules forbidding judicial candidates from taking a stand on cases likely to come before the court, the disciplinary board said.

"The fact that I would be tough on criminals in general and sex offenders or child attackers, in particular, is not a violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct," Kaup said in a letter to the Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com




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