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Mayoral Candidate Andrew Ginther Linked To Bribery Probe

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Columbus City Council President  and leading mayoral candidate Andrew Ginther has been implicated in a federal bribery and fraud investigation. 

As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, 55-year-old Karen Finley of Arizona, the former CEO of Redflex, a red light camera manufacturer, admitted participation in a scheme between 2005 and 2013 in which her company made campaign contributions to elected public officials.

Finley said she agreed to provide campaign contributions in exchange for help in obtaining red-light camera contracts and ticket enforcement.

Ginther is not named in court record, but a cross check with campaign finance reports link him to a suspicious donation from Redflex. 

Federal court documents say “on or about November 1, 2011, the Ohio Democratic Party made a $21,000 contribution to the campaign of the elected official that had contacted” an Arizona red light camera company executive. 

A cross check of federal court documents with campaign finance records shows that Andrew Ginther's campaign received a $21,000 contribution.

Ginther released a written statement which read, "I had absolutely no knowledge of these activities and did not take part in them. While I am not a subject of this inquiry, I have been asked to provide records that may help the investigation into Redflex."

"I have fully cooperated and will continue to assist in bringing these people to justice. In light of these charges, I have asked City Attorney Rick Pfeifer to conduct an investigation into any current contracts between the city and Redflex," Ginther wrote. 

The Columbus Public Safety Department director issued a statement, at the director of Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. Director George Speaks wrote, "I am confident that the Department of Public Safety has complied with all laws and city polices."

"We will continue to cooperate with any and all investigations and examinations," Speaks said. 

We reached out to Ginther's mayoral race opponent, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, for his reaction on the story.  Scott was reserved in his comments, stopping  short of calling for Ginther to quit the race.

“It’s one of those things where perception is reality. So could he ever lead from a position of trust again after having this type of had this situation occur?" Scott said. "I don’t know how you do it after that because, you know, you’ve got to have the trust, the respect and the confidence from the people that you’re trying to serve. You’ve got to.”

If Ginther quits the mayoral race, his campaign’s nominating committee needs three of five votes to name a replacement candidate. The deadline to submit a new candidate to the Franklin County Board of Elections is August 10.