Abortion and corruption front and center in race for Ohio attorney general
Early voting has been going on for a week in Ohio, and statistics show a slight increase in interest in this year’s election compared to four years ago.
That was when Ohio’s five state executive offices were last on the ballot, and the Republicans who won them all stand for re-election against the Democratic challengers.
Our series featuring the 2022 election from the Statehouse News Bureau begins with a profile of the race for attorney general that features incumbent Republican Dave Yost versus Democratic State Rep. Jeffrey Crossman.
The Attorney General upholds state law, oversees 900 law enforcement units in Ohio as well as the state crime lab and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, provides legal advice to state agencies, is called in for special lawsuits and sues on behalf of consumers, with the help of 1,500 employees in 30 divisions.
It’s very public work, and maybe that’s why when Republican AG Dave Yost went on Fox News in July to discuss the story of a 10-year-old Columbus rape victim who traveled to Indiana for an abortion after helping put the state’s six-week abortion ban in place, her comments drew a lot of attention.
In a transcript of this Fox News interview provided by Yost, a former county attorney and reporter, he said at the time that he had not heard – and I quote – “not a whisper anywhere” about this case, and that “there is no case demand for an analysis that looks like this. When a Guatemalan national was charged in the case a few days later, Yost said he was glad of the arrest, but he declined calls from Democrats to apologize.
“Nothing here was wrong,” Yost said. “Nothing here – we didn’t even know the identity, I still don’t know it, of this poor victim. So you ask my apologies for saying what was true when I said it. Respectfully, that’s not very fair.
Yost’s Democratic opponent is Rep. Jeffrey Crossman of Parma.
“I did not call on Dave Yost to resign. I thought he should apologize. And that’s, you know, in his own moral judgment, if he should. And it depends on voters this fall,” Crossman said.
Crossman has run as a pro-choice candidate and isn’t saying how he would defend an abortion law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature that he personally opposes. But he said he would drop the state’s appeal of a Hamilton County judge’s decision suspending the six-week ban indefinitely.
Like other Democrats, Crossman is also waging a campaign focused on corruption in state government, using as an example what he sees as Yost’s inaction on the House Bill 6 nuclear bailout bill, now in power. center of a federal corruption investigation.
“He didn’t issue any subpoenas, as far as I know. He made no real investigation. And I know he knows how to do this job. He did it, as you know, against county commissioners and state charges. And they have the skill and they have the resources,” Crossman said.
Yost said Crossman didn’t know what he was talking about and that he filed civil lawsuits to stop state subsidies to FirstEnergy based on the federal investigation and objected to FirstEnergy’s decoupling charges , which the utility has now completed.
“About $2 billion that would have come out of the pockets of Ohio taxpayers over the next 10 years is not coming out. Why? Not because of my opponent, not because of the actions of the General Assembly or anyone else, but because Dave Yost went to court. Dave Yost stood up. Dave Yost won,” Yost said.
Crossman also has harsh words for the 23 lawsuits Yost has filed or joined against the Biden administration and those filed after the 2020 election.
“Participating and wasting state taxpayer dollars on lawsuits, like trying to overturn the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, has no bearing on what’s happening in Ohio. It’s a waste of taxpayers money. Dave Yost is nothing more than a political hack, and nothing says hack to me than filing lawsuits just because you want to have a political agenda. That’s what those lawsuits were for “said Yost.
In that Pennsylvania case, Yost and other AG Republicans said state lawmakers, not the courts, should decide whether late-arriving ballots can be counted. The United States Supreme Court rejected an emergency order in this case, but the issue will be raised in an upcoming case. Ohio joined the power of state legislatures to draw maps of Congress.
Yost said he was part of less than half of 49 lawsuits filed by attorneys general against the Biden administration.
“Nineteen of them we specifically declined to join because I felt they were unfounded or overtly political. But the bottom line is that I will always fight for the rule of law and I left for my colleagues many times,” Yost said.
Yost had opposed Donald Trump before securing the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He is now endorsed by Trump, but said Joe Biden won in 2020.
Numerous AGs have run for governor, including Democrat Tony Celebrezze and Republican Jim Petro, who lost, and Republican Mike DeWine, who won by beating former AG Richard Cordray in 2018.