CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Tamaya Dennard was not present for the first Cincinnati City Council meeting since her arrest on federal charges of trying to exchange votes for money.
Mayor John Cranley began the meeting on Wednesday stating the allegations against her are serious and disturbing.
“If these allegations are true, or if there’s no credible explanation of innocence, innocence, which in my mind means either she didn’t take the money or she didn’t send those texts. And unless she can claim that, she needs to resign," Cranley said.
Cranley said what transpired in the last 24 hours directly affected the ability to do business as a city and he believes she owes the public an explanation immediately.
“The allegations against Councilmember Dennard are serious and the most disturbing allegations of corruption that I have witnessed, or even heard of,” Cranley said.
The mayor also says he is praying for Dennard and her future.
“We all make mistakes and hopefully she’ll figure out a way to a different future if in that these allegations are true,” he said.
Councilman Greg Landsman is the only other council member who spoke during the meeting regarding the allegations against Dennard.
Landsman said there is “no aspect of this that isn’t awful or sad.”
He did promise the citizens of Cincinnati that council will continue to work.
Dennard is accused of bribery, attempted extortion and honest services wire fraud, according to court records unsealed Tuesday.
She appeared in federal court in handcuffs and leg irons and was released on her own recognizance but ordered to surrender her passport.
Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Gwen McFarlin said the allegations against Dennard are significant.
"Yesterday, I was saddened to learn of Cincinnati City Councilmember Tamaya Dennard’s arrest. The allegations raised against Ms. Dennard are significant and serious.
Councilmember Dennard deserves the due process afforded to all our citizens and should be able to respond to these serious charges brought against her. If the allegations are true, Ms. Dennard should step down from elected office to restore the public’s faith in City Council as it tackles the important issues facing our city.”
The Charter Committee for Greater Cincinnati, a third political party in Cincinnati, said in a statement Wednesday she should recuse herself from “any and all votes” due to evidence against her.
“The Charter Committee is clearly concerned by the events that have transpired over the last 24 hours. We believe with the evidence presented in the affidavit against Councilwoman Dennard it would be in the best interest of the city for her to recuse herself from any and all votes at this time. Councilwoman Dennard is innocent until proven guilty and deserves due process but we feel that with the gravity of the accusations that any and all votes may be called into question and believe that a recusal is the best approach at this time.”
One council member already is calling for her to resign.
“It’s a sad day for Cincinnatians," Councilman Jeff Pastor tells FOX19 NOW.
"My heart, my prayers go out to every Cincinnatian who has lost faith and trust in our city. My heart my prayers goes out to my colleague Tamaya Dennard during this difficult process. Like like my colleagues have indicated, I want the issue to work through the courts. If found guilty, then Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard should immediately resign. If she decides to do so, before that’s totally up to her.”
Pastor said he doesn't condone the behavior Dennard has been accused of, exchanging votes for money. He said as far as he knows, it stops with her.
“I honestly believe no one is conducting this kind of behavior at City Hall. I can definitely say that is not the case with me. I am going to continue to work to restore trust and faith back city government.”
On Tuesday, we contacted several council members for reaction to Dennard’s arrest and charges.
Several didn’t respond. Amy Murray declined comment.
“We just have to wait and see what happens. It’s a sad day for the city,” Councilman David Mann said.
“I am praying for my colleague," said Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman. "I am going to put her on my devotion list and pray for her tonight and in the morning. I am going to be praying for peace for her and for her family.”
Councilman Greg Landsman released a statement on Wednesday: “There is no dimension of this that isn’t awful and sad. What we have to do for residents and taxpayers and everyone we serve is to focus on the work, their phone calls, their emails, and the issues that they bring before us. I am going to make sure we stay focused on that work and on getting things done. People need to know that their government is still working for them. The only reasonable outcome here is that we have 9 members of council that show up every day and are fully capable of doing their job. Every day, completely focused.”