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Konop calls on Thurber to sign ethics pledge

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Ben Konop, a Democratic candidate for Lucas County Commissioner, signed an ethics pledge yesterday and goaded incumbent Maggie Thurber to do likewise by quoting her.

"Citizens deserve complete accountability from their public officials, who should be held to a higher standard," he said, reading an excerpt from a 2002 speech given by Ms. Thurber.

A special prosecutor is reviewing whether Ms. Thurber broke state ethics laws as a conduit for Tom Noe's alleged scheme to launder donations to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Noe in November on charges of breaking campaign-finance laws.

Ms. Thurber was away from Lucas County and unavailable for comment.

The pledge, which Mr. Konop wrote, calls for establishing a county organization that would monitor officeholders in tandem with the Ohio Ethics Commission.

It stipulates that elected officials should "accept no outside income while in office" and "serve the full duration" of their terms.

The pledge supports requiring campaign donors to disclose whether they have any contracts with the county.

Although Mr. Konop has issued this challenge to Ms. Thurber, a Republican, he must first clear the Democratic primary in May, where he faces Toledo City Councilman Phil Copeland and Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener.

Mr. Copeland gave the pledge a quick read yesterday afternoon and agreed with its contents. "It looks good," he said. "I don't have any problems with it."

In an e-mail, Mr. Wagener questioned the need for a county ethics commission.

"While I think we need to address ethics in government, I don't think we need another bureaucratic layer of government like Ben is proposing," he said.

Oregon Mayor Marge Brown pointed out that the pledge's clause about politicians serving full terms would limit a candidate's ability to seek higher office and possibly exclude Mr. Copeland and Mr. Wagener from the commissioner's race.

"What he's saying is that someone like me would be pledging to stay as mayor until 2009," she said. "Even if another office came up, I couldn't run for it. Is that really fair?"

Mr. Konop clarified the provision in response to Ms. Brown's question. He said the limitation was "forward-looking, not retroactive," explaining that it was "like a contract with voters" for the 2006 election.

Contact Joshua Boak at:

jboak@theblade.com

or 419-724-6728.

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