CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard resigned Monday amid growing calls for her to step down after her arrest last week on federal charges of bribery, attempted extortion and wire fraud.
“It is with great sadness that I announce my resignation effective today, March 2, 2020,” she said in a statement released by her lawyers. "The last thing I want is to be a distraction from the work that needs to be done for this City. My main focus has been the people I serve. I need all my time and energy to address these charges against me. It is for this reason I have decided to step aside.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank my supporters who have stood by me during this difficult time. I want to thank my incredible teammates who have worked so hard to churn out good policies and legislation. Lastly, I want to express my deepest, most heartfelt gratitude to the people of Cincinnati for allowing me the greatest honor of serving my hometown in this capacity.”
Dennard is accused in what federal officials say is a scheme to exchange her votes for money.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost they planned to seek Dennard’s suspension from office if she did not resign by Tuesday.
Deters told us Sunday he also planned to file a new state charge of bribery against her if she didn’t quit.
After her announcement Monday, he released a statement saying he was prepared to file a petition with the Ohio Supreme Court to ask for her removal.
“Since she has resigned, that will not be necessary,” his statement reads. "Had Ms. Dennard continued on city council with this matter pending in federal court, the taxpayers and citizens of our community would have reason to doubt any official action she took. Her resignation is a good step for the city and for her personally.”
Yost said in a statement to FOX19 NOW: “Her resignation is a sign of hope for the people of Cincinnati who look for honest government. She made the right decision."
It’s not clear when Dennard’s replacement on council will be named.
Earlier Monday, Councilman Greg Landsman and Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman both said in separate statements it was time for her to go.
“What matters most for the City and those we serve, is for us to be totally focused on the job we were elected to do," Landsman said. "Tamaya needs to be focused on her legal issues. She should step down, for the City’s sake and for hers.”
Landsman disclosed just last week he loaned her $1,000 last year after she asked him to do it and said he considered her a friend at the time.
He said he checked with the city solicitor’s office to make sure the loan was OK.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who was designated to select Dennard’s replacement, released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“This has been a tough stretch for our city, and this is the right thing to allow our city to move forward. I will soon be sharing the process for filling the open seat, so that we have 9 Council Members doing the city’s business.”
Councilman Jeff Pastor reacted to the news Monday evening.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to all Cincinnatians, Tamaya Dennard, and her family during this difficult period,” Pastor said. “I am grateful that our City Council can move beyond this situation, and begin the work of restoring faith and trust and delivering good government.”
Curt Hartman, the attorney who represents voters in the lawsuit to remove her from office, said: “On behalf of my clients, we are pleased that, through the filing of the complaint in probate court, we were able to be the leaders in directly addressing the status of Tamaya Dennard as a member of Cincinnati City Council. In tendering her resignation, we commend Ms. Dennard for recognizing the priority that the interests and greater good of the city should receive."
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also weighed in.
“Her resignation is a sign of hope for the people of Cincinnati who look for honest government," Yost said in a statement. "She made the right decision.”