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Konop challenges opponent on ethics

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Lucas County commissioner candidate Ben Konop rehashed his opening salvo from the Democratic primary election yesterday and asked Republican opponent George Sarantou to sign an ethics pledge.

The amended pledge contains one new bullet point aimed squarely at Mr. Sarantou, a Toledo councilman.

"I will promptly disclose any legally questionable activities within government, of which I am aware, to the Ohio Ethics Commission or other appropriate authorities," it reads.

Mr. Sarantou declined to sign the pledge, stating that he fervently supports and already abides by the code enforced by the Ohio Ethics Commission.

"I believe that's what I need to follow because that is the law," Mr. Sarantou said.

Mr. Sarantou recently disclosed that fellow Councilman Bob McCloskey gave him an envelope filled with $500 in cash three or four years ago. McCloskey resigned from council May 2 and was found guilty of federal and state bribery charges last week.

In addition to a federal sting operation this year that caught him accepting $5,000 from a businessman, McCloskey wanted Pilkington Plc to put $100,000 into a prescription drug program for its retirees in return for approving a 2002 rezoning application from the company.

Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Miller said McCloskey told Mr. Sarantou about the attempted Pilkington bribe in a failed attempt to swing the Republican's vote, a claim that surfaced on the public record after Mr. Sarantou's May 2 primary election victory.

"He didn't report at least two instances of highly questionable behavior," Mr. Konop said. "This is when a councilman or any elected official needs to rise to a higher level."

The pledge also calls for the establishment of a county ethics board, bans campaign contributions from donors who hold no-bid contracts with the county, and requires a candidate to promise he will serve a full four-year term.

Elements of political gamesmanship rest beneath its rhetoric. The pledge does not apply to the campaign itself, just the eventual winner's tenure on the three-member board of commissioners.

After signing a novelty-sized blow-up of the pledge, Mr. Konop hand-delivered a copy to Mr. Sarantou's office in Government Center.

But Mr. Konop, a University of Toledo visiting law professor, did not ask Commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak, both Democrats, to sign the pledge. Nor does he intend to push county treasurer and former city councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz, a Democrat who also received a cash-stuffed envelope from McCloskey, to sign it.

"I'm in a campaign against George," Mr. Konop said. "Wade can do what he thinks is right."

Contact Joshua Boak at:

jboak@theblade.com

or 419-724-6728.

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