CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Sharon Coolidge of the Cincinnati Enquirer has the big story that is rocking the Hamilton County Courthouse and will cause waves in Ohio politics: Common Pleas Judge Bob Ruehlman Judge says State Rep. Tom Brinkman is a "real criminal."
Ruehlman is a Republican, as is Brinkman, but he was was livid that Brinkman reportedly changed 1,000 signatures on an anti-gay rights petition circulated in Cincinnati and wasn't prosecuted for an elections law violation.
The complaint filed with the Hamilton County Board of Elections that began the investigation originated with Citizens to Restore Fairness, an organization that favored rights for gays and others who faced discrimination in Cincinnati. Judge Ruehlman said Brinkman tried to cheat and his actions took away "the right for people to decide issues when you cheat like that."
Brinkman is a conservative pro-lifer who represents the 34th district in the state House. He has introduced bills that would outlaw abortion in Ohio. He faces term limits next year from his state House seat, which covers the East Side of Cincinnati and some suburbs.
In the past, Brinkman has told the Bellwether he didn't tamper with the petitions illegally. He said he got advice to do what he did from a lawyer, David Langdon, who was a special counsel for former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Republican who was the state's top elections official. Langdon also was involved with Citizens for Community Values, the Cincinnati area group that led the fight for the anti-gay marriage amendment adopted in a 2004 statewide referendum. Langdon was co-author of the amendment.
Brinkman has made noises that he might for Congress in OH-02. But Ruehlman's blast probably cut the legs out from under any political future he might have. Opponents will always point out that a judge called him a crook in open court.