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Richard Cordray responds to Mike DeWine attack ad touting law enforcement support

August 24, 2018

Richard Cordray responds to Mike DeWine attack ad touting law enforcement support

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Democratic governor hopeful Richard Cordray is out with a new ad responding to a recent attack from his opponent, Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine, touting his own law enforcement bona fides.

The DeWine campaign recently released an ad portraying Cordray as soft on crime, saying he allowed serial rapists to strike again by not clearing the backlog of sexual assault kits in the state. Cordray’s newest ad features Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart disputing those claims and saying Cordray  has the backing of law enforcement.

“When Rich took over as attorney general, Ohio didn’t have a system to process evidence in sexual assault cases,” Lenhart says. “The backlog stretched back for decades. Rich fixed it. That’s the truth.”

Lenhart, a Republican who is voting for Cordray, points out that Cordray has the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the state.

“I’m voting for the man, not the party and so are cops across Ohio,” Lenhart says in the ad.

A back-and-forth series of attacks between Cordray and DeWine on law enforcement has been brewing for several months, but ramped up in recent days after an Associated Press report on Monday detailed how DeWine’s office left Bureau of Criminal Investigation officers with expired bulletproof vests.

The FOP endorsed Cordray, citing the vest issue as one of the primary reasons.

A day later, DeWine released his first ad of the campaign season, knocking Cordray for being slow to respond to the rape kit backlog in the state. Cordray’s campaign called it a naked attempt to politicize sexual assault.

The rape kit backlog is more complex and can’t be faulted to any single person, but rather a series of institutional shortcomings. There was no statewide standard for how to deal with the evidence, and local law enforcement agencies didn’t test every kit they received, a practice that’s been abandoned in lieu of testing them all.

The issue wasn’t even discussed until Rachel Dissell and Leila Atassi reported on it for The Plain Dealer in 2010.

Cordray, who would only serve through the remainder of 2010 after losing reelection to DeWine, took steps to modernize the state testing lab, though stopped short of asking for all kits to be tested, instead requesting law enforcement to send the most likely samples to provide leads.

After DeWine won, he recommended that local law enforcement agencies send all of their kits to the state testing lab. DeWine cleared the backlog and identified 300 people associated with crimes, which took him his full two terms until 2018.

Cordray’s campaign declined to say how much they were spending on the ad, but it is running statewide.

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