Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has initiated suspension proceedings against Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld just days after the councilman was indicted on federal bribery charges.
“While allegations of public corruption are resolved in the courtroom, a suspension is the right course of action as even the appearance of corruption has no place in government," Yost said in a statement released Monday.
A federal grand jury indicted Sittenfeld last week on charges of honest services wire fraud, bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and attempted extortion under color of official right.
Yost initiated the proceedings in the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday, calling on the Chief Justice to establish a special commission to suspend Sittenfeld from his office, as his "alleged criminal conduct adversely affects the functioning of his office and the rights and interests of the public."
"The indictment alleges violations of the very laws that guard against the misuse of public office and criminalize the use of public office for personal gain," Yost's filing continued.
You can find the full filing on the attorney general’s website here.
We will go to the Supreme Court today to seek suspension of Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld during his federal corruption case.— Dave Yost (@Yost4Ohio) November 23, 2020
Every defendant is presumed innocent in court. But it’d be foolish to ignore the risk of allowing him to wield public power under indictment.
Sittenfeld pleaded not guilty on Thursday and since has maintained his innocence.
In a subsequent tweet Monday morning, Sittenfeld released a video reiterating many of the same points he tweeted Friday. In lieu of a previously scheduled news conference Monday morning, Sittenfeld's attorney, Charles Rittgers, referred reporters' questions to this video:
A message of gratitude pic.twitter.com/G6BFFF6Dxb— P.G. Sittenfeld (@PGSittenfeld) November 23, 2020
On Nov. 16, Yost began proceedings to suspend Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor amid felony bribery and other public corruption charges. Pastor voluntarily agreed to be suspended on Friday, according to a statement from Yost.
Pastor was indicted Nov. 4 on 10 felony counts -- including bribery, extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes -- in the U.S. District Court of Ohio. Federal officers arrested Pastor on Nov. 10, and he was arraigned and released on his own recognizance the same day.