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Counter Points is written by WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. In it, he shares insights on political news on the local, state and national level that impacts the 2020 election. Counter Points is delivered once a week on Wednesdays and will cease publication soon after the November election is decided.

Pastor Suspended From Cincinnati City Council

jeff pastor
Eric Clajus

Jeff Pastor has been suspended from Cincinnati City Council. Pastor was arrested earlier this month on corruption charges. 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed papers to suspend Pastor, but says last week Pastor voluntarily agreed to step away. Yost has also filed to suspend P.G. Sittenfeld, who was arrested on similar charges last week.

"While allegations of public corruption are resolved in the courtroom, a suspension is the right course of action as even the appearance of corruption has no place in government," Yost writes in a statement. 

On Nov. 10, a federal grand jury charged Pastor, 36, with honest services wire fraud, bribery, attempted extortion by a government official and money laundering after he allegedly accepted $55,000 in bribes over the course of about year in exchange for "official action" related to development projects in the city. 

Three days after Pastor's arrest, his attorney Benjamin Dusing said Pastor "is committed to doing the right thing." 

Sittenfeld, meanwhile, is accused of accepting $40,000 in bribes. He is charged with two counts each of honest services wire fraud, bribery and attempted extortion by a government official. He says he is innocent of all charges. 

Sittenfeld became the third City Council member to be accused of creating a pay-to-play scheme this year. Former Council Member Tamaya Dennard was arrested in February and pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud this summer. 

Officials said Sittenfeld's case is different than Pastor and Dennard's in that he didn't directly pocket the bribe money. Instead, he asked that the money be donated to a PAC.