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Mayor Coleman Denies Involvement In Redflex Contract, Ginther says otherwise.

Red light camera
Wikimedia Commons

In his first response to word that federal investigators are looking into bribery allegations at Columbus City Hall involving a red light camera company, Mayor Michael Coleman said, “I had no involvement in the decision to award the contract to Redflex.”

But in an interview Tuesday morning on WTVN Radio, City Council President Andrew Ginther said the mayor does play a role in picking vendors with whom the city does business.

Ginther said the city has been able to avoid corruption issues because of its “extensive process” of selecting vendors. He noted the process involves a committee of unelected officials. The next steps, Ginther said, involve the mayor.

“We have a ten-step process before any piece of legislation even gets to council consideration, a ten step process that involves three other independently elected officials: the mayor, the auditor, the city attorney,” Ginther said.

Ginther said then the legislation goes to seven independent members of City Council.

Ginther's spokesman John Ivanic  responded to a request to clarify by saying, "The Public Safety Department was responsible for the recommendation to Council.  The Safety Director reports to the Mayor.  All elected leaders noted (by Ginther)  have a step in the formation of legislation that, if passed by Council, must ultimately be signed by the Mayor." 

On Wednesday, Coleman's spokeswoman Tyneisha Harden said the mayor stands by his original statement. " What Council President Ginther is referring to is the basic checks and balances seen throughout city government," Harden wrote. "Yes, Mayor Coleman signed the legislation that City Council voted on and passed, however Mayor Coleman was not involved in the research, procurement, or contracting process that ultimately selected Redflex as the vendor. That process was completed by the Department of Public Safety."

After receiving subpoenas, Coleman and Ginther have turned over documents to federal investigators after a former Redflex executive pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges.   Karen Finley told investigators her company gave donations, funneled through the state Democratic Party, to elected city officials in return for favorable treatment.  

A cross-check of campaign and court documents indicate Ginther’s campaign received one of the donations cited by prosecutors. Other campaign reports not cited by prosecutors show Columbus political consultant John Raphael used his company to donate $5,000 to the mayor's Coleman for Columbus committee on November 1, 2007. 

Ginther, who’s the leading candidate for mayor, denies the allegations and says he will stay in the mayoral race.

Link to WTVN interview.

Story updated Wednesday, 6/24/15 to include Mayor Coleman's spokeswoman's comments.