TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and city council president Matt Cherry have called upon Ohio Attorney General David Yost to exercise his power under ORC 3.16 to begin the process of suspending four city council members accused in a bribery scandal.
If Yost complies, council members Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, Gary Johnson and Tyrone Riley would be suspended from their positions and unable to participate or vote in meetings until a verdict in their cases has been decided.
Kapszukiewicz had asked the members in a written statement to resign by Sunday, July 12 at 6 p.m. Otherwise, he said, he would call upon Yost to begin the process of their suspension. None of the members chose to resign by the deadline, and Kapszukiewicz made good on his promise, sending this letter to Yost on Monday morning:
Yost's office issued a statement Monday afternoon:
“The Ohio Attorney General’s office received Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s and City Council President Matt Cherry’s request to suspend four members of the Toledo City Council who were recently arrested and charged by the Department of Justice with felony counts of bribery and extortion. The matter is under evaluation, taking into consideration the rights of the accused to a presumption of innocence – and the rights and interests of the public. When further details are available, we will be sure to promptly share.”
The full text of the letter sent by Kapszukiewicz reads:
"Dear Attorney General Yost:
In the midst of an unprecedented number of challenges for the city of Toledo, four members of Toledo City Council – Tyrone Riley, Larry Sykes, Gary Johnson, and Yvonne Harper – were recently arrested and charged by the Department of Justice with felony counts of bribery and extortion.
This has not only outraged Toledoans who expect their elected officials to hold themselves to the highest of ethical standards, but has also made it impossible to conduct the business of the city while these four officials act as if nothing has changed. Particularly now, the ability to conduct the people’s business without delay is essential.
Immediately after these charges were made public, we both called upon these four officials to resign their offices. While they are entitled to a presumption of innocence until found guilty, they are not entitled to their offices if remaining there will make it difficult for the city government to carry-out its business with the trust and support of our residents.
This past Thursday, we again publicly called upon these four to resign by Sunday, July 12th at 6:00 p.m. If they did not, we made clear that we would ask your office to begin proceedings to suspend them from their public offices as provided for by Ohio law.
Sadly, not one of these four Council members resigned by that deadline.
Thus, we ask that you exercise the power provided to the Attorney General under Ohio Revised Code § 3.16 to begin proceedings to suspend these four officials from their offices – these four local officials having been charged with felonies related to official conduct. This action will protect the taxpayers and afford all involved with due process.
We believe that this long-standing Ohio procedure will provide fair and due process to these officials. We also believe that if these officials are suspended from office, it will help to restore confidence in our local government and allow the business of the city of Toledo to move forward.
Please let our offices know if there is anything else we can do to assist with this request.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this critical matter."
In a statement released Thursday, Kapszukiewicz said that he and Yost were in agreement that this step, is the wisest course of action.
That statement read, in part:
"Therefore, beginning Monday July 13, either because the four members of Council have resigned or because the process for their suspension will have begun, Toledo City Council will be able to conduct its normal business and carry out the work of the citizens of Toledo."
Below is Kapszukiewicz's full statement from Thursday:
"The arrest of four members of Toledo City Council by the FBI has not only outraged Toledoans who expect their elected officials to hold themselves to the highest of ethical standards, but as we learned earlier this week, it has also made it impossible to conduct the business of the city.
Honest and effective government is always important, but in a year that has brought unprecedented challenges to communities throughout our country, the ability to conduct the people’s business without delay is essential.
We need to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the economic hardships and budget shortfalls it has caused. We need to continue to promote effective policing policies at a time whenmany of our citizens have taken to the streets to call for change and reform. And we need to devote resources to strengthening our economy, providing basic services, and investing in our neighborhoods.
None of this important work can be accomplished if the four arrested members of Council continue to act as though nothing is wrong or nothing has changed.
As a result, I am repeating my call for these members to resign. Should they not resign by 6 pm Sunday, July 12th, I will formally ask Ohio Attorney General David Yost to exercise his power under ORC 3.16 to begin the process of suspending the members from City Council, pending the results of their legal proceedings.
I spoke with Mr. Yost today, and he and I are in agreement that this is the wisest course of action.
Therefore, beginning Monday July 13th, either because the four members of Council have resigned or because the process for their suspension will have begun, Toledo City Council will be able to conduct its normal business and carry out the work of the citizens of Toledo.”
Among various items, a Toledo mask mandate is expected to be included for the city council meeting on Monday.