Written By: Ishton W. Morton – November 21st, 2020
And now come the lamentation of Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld. “I am innocent! On Friday, November 20th, 2020 he said; The allegations against me are simply not true!
Back on Thursday March 7th, 2019 Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman told the five they violated the trust of voters and should immediately resign from office.
The five council members includes Wendell Young, P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach, Tamaya Dennard and Greg Landsman. They all admitted to be part of a settlement agreement that they broke Ohio open meetings law by secretly discussing public business in a string of group text messages.
The Judge gave a tongue-lashing to five Cincinnati City Council members who broke the law by secretly conducting public business via text messages. The City Council’s ‘Gang of Five’ should apologize and resign over.
The Judge added their actions betrayed the ideals of those who created a city government that’s supposed to serve the public, not elected officials.
Ruehlman said, “I really believe the five City Council members should resign. No city voter should ever vote for them again!”
Ruehlman continued to say; “You essentially lied to the people of this city. The trust is gone. It’s going to take a long time to get that trust back.” That day in court Sittenfeld attitude seems to have been one of extreme arrogance. Had he acted on Judge Ruehlman’s advice of recommendation(s) he might have just avoided this overwhelming dilemma.
Nonetheless, predicated on a statement and released in on Sittenfeld social media accounts, the 36-year-old Democrat guaranteed to fight the charges brought against him.
Sittenfeld had this to say; “The attempt to portray proper assistance to a project bringing jobs and growth to our city that benefits the public is a gross overreach and an injustice. I stand strongly on my record of public service, including providing help that’s in the public interest to anyone, whether they have ever made a political contribution to me or not. My public service has always been guided by doing what’s best for Cincinnati. Please know this: I do not give up and will not give up. I intend to keep fighting — fighting these false allegations, fighting as your elected Council Member and fighting for our city and its future.”
Although Sittenfeld, one of the city’s most popular and influential leaders with an ambition to be its next mayor, is up on federal fraud, bribery and attempted extortion charges. His arrest on Thursday morning at his home in East Walnut Hills sent enormous shockwaves through City Hall thus calling on him to step down.
The Hamilton County Democratic Party who normally would come to Sittenfeld defense issued a statement saying if the allegations are true, then Sittenfeld should resign.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in his lamentation called this “a sad day.” However, he continued to say, Sittenfeld is entitled to due process, he should focus on that and resign from his elected position.
Moreover, according to the six-count indictment, two years ago this month at a downtown restaurant, P.G. Sittenfeld met with someone he thought was an investor and laid out his terms for approving a development project.
According to federal investigators, those terms added up to $20,000.
Furthermore after lunch, at a private location(s) investor(s) who were an undercover federal agent(s) wearing a wire, required veto-proof guarantee.
According to Chris Hoffman, special agent in charge for the FBI, quoting Sittenfeld from the indictment, “I can sit here and say I can deliver the votes. He met in secret on numerous occasions, alone, received the checks personally to his hand. He didn’t send a middle man.”
And what quality of arrogance? What manner of greed and stupidity? There were eight checks total, adding up to $40,000, officials say.
By contrast unlike the corruption charges against fellow lawmakers Jeff Pastor and Tamaya Dennard, agents say the money did not go into Sittenfeld’s personal pockets.
Apparently, David DeVillers, the U.S. attorney, The FBI described it as a secret account. “They went into a political slush fund, a PAC.”
Subsequently, quoting Sittenfeld again from the indictment, “I think frankly a lot of people don’t even know I have it.”
It must be understood that P.G. Sittenfeld went to Seven Hills School, then to Princeton University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 2007 with a degree in English. He went on to attend a master’s program, in English literature, at Oxford University. So what is meant when he said; “I think frankly a lot of people don’t even know I have it.”
Some are asking if the feds have Sittenfeld dead to rights or does he have space for an entrapment defense? We asked investigators whether they have a red-handed quid pro quo.
Base on recent history, the term Quid pro quo we all can remember. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase used in English to mean an exchange of goods or services, in which one transfer is contingent upon the other; “a favor for a favor”. Phrases with similar meanings include: “give and take”, “tit for tat“, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”, and “one hand washes the other”. Other languages use other phrases for the same purpose.
DeVillers responded, “You’re not gonna get that? “I mean, you’re rarely gonna get that!”
Meanwhile, Dennard, a Democrat, is awaiting sentence on her federal corruption charges. Pastor, a Republican, indicted similarly two weeks ago, has so far resisted calls for his resignation.
Allegedly Sittenfeld personally accepted $40,000 over a year’s time in exchange for delivering votes developers wanted.
However, DeVillers continued to say, “I tell you what, if I’m inclined to vote for this particular piece of legislation, I’m talking just hypothetically, not specifically about this case. I’m inclined to vote for this particular piece of legislation, you should be inclined to support me financially in that regard because it will benefit you.”
City Hall is tarnished, or imperfect yet again from a third unrelated pay-to-play corruption case as public trust suffers from a virus called corruption.
Now David Mann a longtime public servant, who has known his fellow Democrat and his family all his life had this to say; “Probably at an all-time low in my experience, “I am sickened by news of the arrest and suggested a first step toward cleaner government.”
He added “If we hadn’t known before, we now know that the individual members of council should not be in the middle of negotiating development deals.”
Meanwhile Mayor Cranley who is calling for reform on Thursday told the media it is clear major reform is needed.
In the intervening time, Sittenfeld surrendered his passport and pleaded not guilty in his initial federal court appearance and was released on his own recognizance. Any statement from him will likely come through legal representation.
Mann commented, “Very sad,” who waved off any comment about impact on the mayoral race that he is a part of, telling us today is about empathy.
He added “I’ve known P. G. and his family forever. And I can’t imagine what they’re all going through.”