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State Rep. Mallory named in Ohio ethics probe
Question of the Day
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Another state lawmaker has been identified as a subject of an ongoing investigation into lobbying by the payday lending industry.
State Rep. Dale Mallory, a Cincinnati Democrat, faces possible ethics violations in a probe led by Ohio’s legislative watchdog, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien confirmed Tuesday.
Investigators are looking at Mallory’s receipt of tickets to a 2009 Cincinnati Bengals game and dinners at Cincinnati and Columbus restaurants paid for by a payday lending lobbyist.
That lobbyist, John Rabenold of Axcess Financial in Sycamore Township, northeast of Cincinnati, was fined $2,000 and sentenced to three years of probation last month for failing to report gifts to lawmakers.
Rabenold pleaded guilty to paying for lawmakers to see the Bengals’ 23-13 victory over the Detroit Lions on Dec. 6, 2009, and to dine the next month at Via Vite Downtown and Lindey’s in Columbus.
The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, a legislative panel, is deciding whether to press charges against the lawmakers who accepted those gifts, but officials have declined to name the people being investigated.
O’Brien confirmed Mallory’s name to The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1kJFQRM ) after a $147 refund to Rabenold for “tickets and dinner” appeared on Mallory’s campaign finance update Friday. A message left Tuesday with Mallory seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.
A bill cracking down on payday loans - high-interest, short-term loans for small sums - cleared the Ohio House in 2010 over the objections of a few Democrats, mostly urban blacks who argued such loans were a needed resource among their constituents. Mallory cast a no vote. The bill ultimately failed to clear the Ohio Senate and never became law.
Two other state representatives have previously been snared in the payday probe.
Then-state Rep. Rep. Clayton Luckie, a four-term Dayton Democrat, is serving three years in prison term after pleading guilty to election falsification, grand theft and other charges in January 2013.
State and federal investigators found that Luckie skimmed nearly $130,000 in campaign funds for personal use and failed to list campaign expenditures for six years. Investigators have said they began reviewing Luckie’s spending reports after he failed to report a campaign contribution from the payday lending industry.
Columbus Democrat W. Carlton Weddington began a three-year prison sentence in August 2012 after pleading guilty to bribery, election falsification and filing a false financial disclosure statement.
Authorities said he accepted all-expenses-paid trips to South Beach, Miami, and California’s Napa Valley from a fake business entity set up by the FBI. The entity sought to exchange trips, cash and campaign contributions for legislation that Weddington would introduce.
The FBI has said the effort was triggered by an email Weddington wrote to a payday loan industry lobbyist demanding “serious cheese” or a suite at a Cleveland Cavaliers game in connection with payday legislation being considered at the Statehouse.
Weddington sought early release this month in a motion indicating he’s been “humbled and rehabilitated.” In April, a judge denied a similar request from Luckie.
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