OToole (Republican Ohio Supreme Court candidate) gets blasted by state GOP chair
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges has accused a GOP candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court of violating the state's code of judicial conduct by saying she hopes a Democrat is elected in another Supreme Court race.
Borges made the accusation in a letter that also notes that 11th District Appeal Court Judge Colleen Mary O'Toole was fined for wearing a campaign badge in 2012 that said "Judge O'Toole" even though she wasn't on the bench at the time.
"Your continued violations of the judicial canons display your blatant disregard for the law and calls into question whether you display the temperament and integrity required of a qualified judicial candidate," Borges wrote.
At issue is that O'Toole, who is in a GOP primary battle for one Supreme Court seat, told the Akron Legal News that she hopes a fellow appeals court judge, Cynthia Westcott Rice, a Democrat, is elected in another race for the state's high court.
Under the judicial conduct code, judicial candidates cannot "publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for another public office."
O'Toole, a Lake County resident, said Thursday afternoon that she hadn't seen Borges' letter until she was provided a copy by a reporter. She said she never told the Legal News that she was endorsing Rice -- just that it would be historic if three current or former members of the 11th District Court of Appeals (herself, Rice, and Justice William O'Neill) were on the Supreme Court.
"I think it would be great if we were both there, historically, in context," O'Toole said of herself and Rice.
O'Toole said Borges' letter was a "desperate attempt" to help elect her primary rival, 1st District Appeals Court Judge Pat Fischer, who received the state GOP's endorsement last year.
"This is really about politics, not ethics," O'Toole said.
The winner of the O'Toole-Fischer primary will run in November against Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John O'Donnell, a Democrat, to replace retiring Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger.
Rice is running against Republican 1st District Appeals Court Judge Pat DeWine to succeed another retiring justice, Paul Pfeifer.
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