COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — In the race for mayor of Columbus, City Council President Andrew Ginther is the first candidate to air a political ad.
But he is not telling voters what’s good about Ginther. Rather, he is telling them what’s bad about Sheriff Zach Scott.
The two Democrats are facing off to replace outgoing mayor Michael Coleman.
In a new television commercial, Sheriff Scott is sharply criticized for what’s described as a “culture of abuse.”
The ad details instances of taser abuse by deputies that resulted in lawsuits, injuries to a pregnant woman and a death in custody. It also describes a report by the Sheriff’s own internal affairs division, that included a recommendation for punishment of 52 deputies. The ad alleges that the Sheriff ignored the recommendations and failed to discipline or fire a single deputy, and that the Sheriff’s office paid out more than a million dollars to settle lawsuits.
Sheriff Scott is firing back. In an interview with NBC4’s Colleen Marshall he called the ad “misleading” and filled with inaccuracies and lies.
“They’re desperate. They’re in trouble”, he said, adding his opponent’s camp is trying to divert attention from the scandals that are following Ginther.
“Every time this guy turns around there is some scandal attached to him,” said Scott, referring to the data rigging crisis when Ginther served on the City School Board, and the more recent red light camera bribery investigation.
Scott does not deny the taser abuse lawsuits, but said the problems occurred long before he was sheriff.
Not so, says Ginther campaign manager Bryan Clarke. In an interview with Colleen Marshall, he claimed the taser abuse started in 2008, when Scott was the supervisor in charge of corrections for the Franklin County Jails, and that the abuse continued after Scott became sheriff. Clarke says the claims in the ad are true, and the criticism is valid.
“From day one we knew we would have to draw a sharp contrast between Ginther’s record of leadership and Zach Scott’s failed leadership,” he said.
Investigation uncovered that it is true that Franklin County paid more than $1.1 million since 2009 to settle lawsuits involving tasers and excessive force. It is also true that the Internal Affairs Bureau recommended punishment for 52 Franklin County deputies.
Zach Scott was in charge of the county jails in 2008, but in 2009 he was transferred into the community service division. He became sheriff in July 2011.