Dennard To Make Council Decision Next Week As Colleagues React To Allegations

Feb 26, 2020

Updated: 7:10 p.m.

A day after Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard was arrested and federally charged with wire fraud, bribery, and attempted extortion, Dennard, her fellow council members and party leaders are reacting to the news.

A statement from Dennard's lawyers says she will make a decision about remaining on City Council by the end of next week. 

WVXU obtained the following from attorneys Martin S. Pinales and Eric G. Eckes: 

"Ms. Dennard looks forward to addressing the serious allegations made against her. She understands there are immediate questions about her continued service on City Council. She recognizes that her constituents deserve to know whether she will continue to serve in the seat to which she was elected while she works to clear her name. To that end, Ms. Dennard will make a decision about her future on City Council by the end of next week."

Between August and December of 2019, officials allege Dennard, a Democrat, engaged in acts and attempted acts of bribery and extortion, offering to exchange her votes for money. Dennard, who denies the charges, appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon. She is free on an own-recognizance bond - so she didn't have to post bail with a promise to show up to her hearings, the first of which is set for March 16. 

Meanwhile, some of her fellow council members and the chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party have expressed shock over the allegations against her.

"...The allegations against Councilmember Dennard are serious, and the most disturbing allegations of corruption that I have witnessed or even heard of," Mayor John Cranley wrote in a statement. "I believe that she owes the public an explanation immediately. If these allegations are true, or if there's no credible explanation of innocence. Innocence, which in my mind means she either didn't take the money or she didn't send those texts. And unless she can claim that, she needs to resign."

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Gwen McFarlin issued a similar sentiment. "If the allegations are true, Ms. Dennard should step down from elected office to restore the public's faith in City Council as it tackles the important issues facing our city," she wrote.

Read their statements in full below, as well as that of other council members who have spoken out so far: 

Mayor John Cranley

"...The allegations against Councilmember Dennard are serious, and the most disturbing allegations of corruption that I have witnessed or even heard of. And they directly threaten the city's business and the ability to conduct the city business. That public trust is paramount to our ability to function and do business as a city and for our citizens.

"I believe that she owes the public an explanation immediately. If these allegations are true, or if there's no credible explanation of innocence. Innocence, which in my mind means she either didn't take the money or she didn't send those texts. And unless she can claim that, she needs to resign. 

"The city deserves better, we deserve better.

"It's certainly the case that today is Ash Wednesday. And I pray for her. And I hope that if these allegations are true, that somehow she can find a future, I think she has to take accountability for her actions, accept the consequences. And I hope and pray nothing for the best that she could make a turnaround. We all make mistakes. And hopefully she'll figure out a way to a different future if in fact, these allegations are true."

Council Member Greg Landsman

"There is no dimension of this that isn’t awful and sad. What we have to do for residents and taxpayers and everyone we serve is to focus on the work, their phone calls, their emails and the issues that they bring before us. I am going to make sure we stay focused on that work and on getting things done. People need to know that their government is still working for them.

"The only reasonable outcome here is that we have nine members of council that show up every day and are fully capable of doing their job. Every day, completely focused."

Council Member Jeff Pastor

"In light of recent events, I want to make clear that my office is completely focused on delivering good government to each and every citizen. I took a sacred oath to guard the trust the voters have placed in me, and it is my honor to serve the city I love. I remain committed to delivering transparent, accountable and honest government to each and every Cincinnatian. I will be praying for my city and ask that my fellow Cincinnatians do the same."

Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld

"This has been a sad, rough couple days for our city. At a personal level, I’ve been devastated and shocked by news about someone who has been both a friend and a colleague. I am praying for her. Everyone deserves due process. I’m going to respect that process as it unfolds. It is my hope, and it is also my expectation, that the situation is going to have resolution soon in a way that allows the city to move forward."

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Gwen McFarlin

"Yesterday, I was saddened to learn of Cincinnati City Councilmember Tamaya Dennard's arrest. The allegations raised against Ms. Dennard are significant and serious. Councilmember Dennard deserves the due process afforded to all our citizens and should be able to respond to these serious charges brought against her. If the allegations are true, Ms. Dennard should step down from elected office to restore the public's faith in City Council as it tackles the important issues facing our city."