Columbus mayor, Democratic nominee say they're helping federal traffic camera bribery probe

Associated Press

The fourth-term mayor in Ohio's capital city and the Democratic nominee to replace him both say they are assisting with a federal traffic camera bribery investigation, but insist they aren't linked to any wrongdoing.

Mayor Michael Coleman said in statement Tuesday he had no involvement in awarding the city's traffic camera contract to Phoenix-based vendor Redflex Traffic Systems. Federal authorities said Friday a former Redflex chief executive pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy involving getting or keeping camera contracts in Columbus and Cincinnati.

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Columbus Council President Andy Ginther sent an email message to supporters saying he isn't a focus, target, subject or person of interest. He blamed suggestions to the contrary on an effort to smear him and his campaign to succeed Coleman, a fellow Democrat who isn't seeking re-election.

Both Coleman and Ginther both said they're providing information to federal investigators.

"While I am not the focus, I do consider these allegations to be serious," Coleman said in his statement. "As such, I will do whatever is necessary to assist the authorities."

Coleman said he has asked the city's Department of Public Safety to work with the city attorney to examine the photo enforcement program.

Ginther said he had asked the Coleman administration and city attorney to conduct separate investigations. He also expressed outrage at "total misrepresentation of our city government."

Cincinnati doesn't use traffic cameras, which have drawn legal and political challenges around the state. Cities and vendors say they improve safety; foes say they are mainly meant to raise revenues.