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COAST Charged with Making False Statements to Influence Issue 48 Vote

And in Ohio, that’s a crime that can be punished with up to six months in prison and/or a $5000 fine. Here’s the press release from Cincinnatians for Progress:

October 28, 2011


In an action filed today with the Ohio Elections Commission, Cincinnatians for Progress formally charged COAST with knowingly making false statements to affect the outcome of the Issue 48 election vote.

The case cites twenty instances in the past two months in which COAST made false statements in violation of Ohio Revised Code Section 3517.22. Most claim the city has taken funds away from fire services to fund the streetcar project.

The Revised Code specifies those found guilty of violating Section 3517.22 “shall be imprisoned for not more than six months or fined not more than five thousand dollars, or both.”

Cincinnatians for Progress is leading the effort to defeat Issue 48, which would prohibit the city from investing in rail transit until 2021.

COAST has conducted a relentless campaign of deliberate misinformation about Issue 48 in the face of definitive evidence that their statements are wrong. Not only are the facts widely available in local media and city records, they have been provided directly to COAST officials by the city.

Our goal in filing this action to to assure that city voters can cast their ballots based on accurate, authoritative information.

David Dawson

Margaret McGurk

Rob Richardson

Mark Schmidt

Co-chairs, Cincinnatians for Progress

Some historical context: An anti-rail group led by Stephan Louis was found guilty of the same crimes while successfully leading a dishonest campaign to defeat the Metro Moves light rail initiative in 2002. Louis was appointed to the SORTA board by a right-wing Hamilton County Commission as political payback for his work in defeating Metro Moves, and continues to speak on behalf of COAST today.

One wonders if Chris Smitherman will also find himself added to the complaint, in light of his recent Facebook posts that clearly misrepresent the nature of Issue 48, despite Smitherman himself being heavily involved in its creation.

If nothing else, this shows that anti-progress zealots know they can’t defeat rail transit on its merits, so the only weapons they have left are lies and misrepresentation. Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair. This one is going to be fun to watch.