Prosecutor, Ohio AG to seek suspension of Dennard from office if she doesn’t resign by Tuesday

Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard's seat was empty at Wednesday's meeting of the Cincinnati City...
Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard's seat was empty at Wednesday's meeting of the Cincinnati City Council. Dennard was arrested Tuesday on federal charges in an attempt to sell her council vote for money, according to the Department of Justice.(WXIX)
Updated: Mar. 2, 2020 at 6:46 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost both said Sunday they plan to seek Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard’s suspension from office if she does not resign by Tuesday.

Deters said he also plans to file a new charge of bribery against her if she doesn’t quit.

Dennard’s attorney, Erik Laursen, declined comment Sunday.

Last week, he said Dennard would resist efforts to remove her from office.

“We’re going to defend, we’re going to move forward, and Tamaya will continue to fight,” Laursen said Friday.

Deters said he thinks Dennard is "digging her heels in. She ain’t gonna win this.

“This is not Cincinnati. You may talk about Youngstown or something. This is not the way we act in Cincinnati. Everyone is very upset about it and we are going to take action quickly.”

RELATED | Mayor Cranley says Dennard 'needs to resign’ if allegations against her are true | Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard tried to exchange her votes for money, feds say | 'Judgment is so easy’: Tamaya Dennard makes first comments following arrest

Sunday’s development also comes after a city attorney said in court last week the city solicitor’s office is unsure it would prosecute a lawsuit filed by citizens to remove her because it doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the current federal wire fraud, bribery and attempted extortion case against her.

Deters initially had similar concerns that prompted him to hold off on taking action to suspend her after he said federal authorities told him to stand down.

On Sunday, however, he said federal authorities have since signaled it’s OK to proceed with efforts to remove her from office.

Deters said they are going to file a state bribery charge because “some of our people think we need to have a state charge” to seek suspension.

Under state law, the attorney general or county prosecutor can petition the Ohio Supreme Court’s chief justice to appoint a special commission of retired judges to decide to suspend a public officeholder when they are charged with a felony in connection with their position.

That process can take months unless the elected official agrees to a voluntary suspension, as Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader did when he was indicted last year on several felonies and misdemeanors.

Elected officials suspended through this process continue to be paid. If they are convicted, however, the government entity - the city in this case - can seek reimbursement of the money.

If the commission suspends the elected official, state law calls for the probate court judge to name a temporary replacement.

Curt Hartman, the attorney who filed the lawsuit to remove Dennard from office on behalf of anti-tax activist Mark Miller, Miller’s three sons and State Rep. Tom Brinkman, R_Mt. Lookout said in a statement to FOX19 NOW: “The ultimatum issued by Joe Deters clearly vindicates the complaint we filed last week to start the citizen-initiated process for the removal of Tamaya Dennard. We are pleased to see Joe Deters and David Yost now engaging in the process to help clean up Cincinnati City Hall. The citizens and taxpayers of Cincinnati deserve a government that puts those citizens and taxpayers first.”

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