Open Letter: Prosecutors’ Unjust Treatment Of PG Sittenfeld

Friends of PG
5 min readFeb 1, 2021

And Why We Shouldn’t Let It Happen

As a diverse cross-section of community members in Greater Cincinnati — representing different ages, races, neighborhoods, professions, and political affiliations — we’re proud to lend our names in support of a unified message: The unjust, unfair prosecution of PG Sittenfeld is just plain wrong.

Like so many Cincinnatians, we have seen a lot of PG over many years — and we have complete confidence that we know his character and his record. PG is honest, caring, and deeply committed to Cincinnati, and he has brought jobs, growth, and opportunity to our city. He has also been a strong voice for marginalized community members who are too often left behind. Given the many walks of life that we represent, we do not all agree with every vote or action that PG has ever taken but, even when we’ve disagreed with him, we trust him. His integrity is beyond reproach.

We’ve also followed the allegations brought against him as well as the facts brought to light in this case. Put simply, they do not add up.

PG and his legal team have filed a motion to dismiss the case. The drafting of the motion was led by Michael Dreeben, a 30-year alum of the Department of Justice, who served as Deputy Solicitor General of the United States and argued 105 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. It notes:

“The factual allegations show that Mr. Sittenfeld did not engage in any quid pro quo agreement — he did not promise to exchange official actions for campaign contributions” but instead “…Mr. Sittenfeld affirmed his widely known, longstanding pro-development positions in the same conversations where undercover agents, posing as investors, offered or provided contributions to his lawful, federally regulated political action committee in an attempted sting.”

The motion continues:

“The indictment’s own allegations disprove [the prosecutors’] theory. They show that Mr. Sittenfeld rejected the agents’ entreaties to link the contributions to his official conduct… Mr. Sittenfeld sought support based on his popularity and positions. That is not a crime; if candidates cannot seek support based on their positions and likely electoral success, it is difficult to see how they can attract support at all.”

The case brought against PG — who has received more votes at the ballot box than any city leader in nearly a decade — fails as a matter of law. As others have noted, if his behavior is in any way criminal, then every current Mayor, Governor, and member of Congress and every person who has ever run for political office is similarly guilty.

We’ve also now learned from official court filings that prosecutors willfully cherry-picked and manipulated PG’s words to make comments that show PG’s true intentions instead seem sinister.

Consider a few jarring examples:

Prosecutors write in the indictment: “Sittenfeld stated that he would give a nudge on the City side and the Port side to ‘make haste on a development agreement.’”

It has now come out that PG’s full quote was, “On the city side, and frankly on the Port side, I can give a nudge and say, now that this partnership’s in place, let’s make haste on a development agreement, which by the way is in the City’s best interest, too.”

When PG ends his comment by talking about what is in the City’s best interest, what do prosecutors do? Cut him off mid-sentence and remove it from the indictment entirely.

In an even more egregious example, prosecutors write in the indictment: “Sittenfeld went on to state, ‘It’s gotta happen, I mean, I’ve already, in the conversations I’ve already had with my colleagues…”

Consider PG’s full comments: “It’s gotta happen, I mean, I’ve already, in the conversations I’ve already had with my colleagues, that parcel and what it means for broader tourism, that can’t be what it has been historically if we’re going to energize that part of downtown.”

Prosecutors resorted to deliberate distortions to make it appear PG only cared about a redevelopment project so that he could leverage it for political contributions. The truth — in PG’s own recorded words — is that he was motivated by “energizing” downtown and by doing what is “in the City’s best interest.”

Cincinnati needs our most talented, passionate young people shaping the future of our city for the better. PG is an excellent example of someone who has done exactly that.

The injustice that is now unfolding doesn’t just hurt PG — it hurts our city, too.

If you are part of the Greater Cincinnati community and would like to add your name to this Open Letter, please email FriendsofPG@Rittgers.com indicating your wish to do so.

Sincerely,

Tony Alexander

Jane Anderson

Louis Arnold

Richard Asimus

Julie Baker

Shawn Baker

Clare Zlatic Blankemeyer

Tony Blankemeyer

Anthony Bradford

Hazeleen Brewster

Leland Brewster

George Brinkman

Rhoda Brooks

Maurice Brown

Karl Brown

Tim Burke

Wendy Calaway

Willie Carden

Anna K. Carey

Christine Carli

Annette Carothers

Dr. Thomas Carothers

Eric Chapman

Jasmine Coaston

Alyssa Conley

John Courter

Joseph Curry

Wynne Curry

Carrie Davis

Ozie Davis

Leo J.P. D’Cruz

Alex Derkson

Craig Decker

Paul De Marco

Joseph Dehner

Ed Diller

Shirley Duff

Dr. Igor Dumbadze

John Eby

Tracy Finn

Ann Gerwin

Carolyn Gilbert

Marcheta Gillam

Nancy Greiwe

Jacqueline Edmerson

Stan Elliott

Ellie Fabe

Matt Feldman

Meg Fiora

Rick Fischer

Tony Fischer

James Fisher

Jean-Francois Flechet

John Frank, Jr.

Sue Friedlander

Jane Simon Fritz

Nancy Gack

Amy Goodwin

Eric Haberthier

Martha Harrington

Greg Harris

Louise A. Head

Alex Heldman

Brian Hill

Grace Hill

Dale Hodges

Florette Hoffheimer

Dani Isaacsohn

John Isidor

Lisa Head James

Sandy James

Chris Jenco

Margaret Jenco

Carolyn Jones

Kendall Kadish

Dr. Robert Kahn

Sandy Kaltman

Coleman Kane

Rabbi Ken Kanter

Scott Knox

Polk Laffoon IV

Betsy LaMacchia

John LaMacchia

Antoine Langree

David Little

David Logan

Beth Luken

Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr.

Jacqueline Mack

Tim Maloney

Susan Marrs

Mohsin Masud

Tyler McIlwraith

Steven McDevitt

Carolyn McCoy

Nicole McWhorter

Braden Mechley

Ryan Messer

Linda Miller

Troy Miller

Mark Mitchell

Jimmy Musuraca-Messmer

Ethan Nichols

Kevin Ott

Lib Ott

Katherine G. Overbey

Amy Parks-Ealy

Ken Perry

Justin Phillips

Meredith Post

Janet Allen Reid

David Reid

Rick Reynolds

Vicky Reynolds

Rob Richardson, Jr.

Annie Rittgers

Myron Rivers

Gwen Robinson

David Rosenberg

Dianne Rosenberg

Jens Rosenkrantz

Dick Rosenthal

Ed Rosenthal

Jennie Rosenthal

Kitty Strauss Rosenthal

Jack Rouse

Lynn Rush

Jeff Rush

Antonio Sanders

Cliff Schecter

Beth Schiff

Jim Schiff

Mark Schlachter

Rosemary Schlachter

Jeff Schloemer

Dr. David Schwartz

Councilmember Chris Seelbach

Jay Shatz

Dr. Edward Silberstein

Karen Smith

Margo Spence

Leon Spitz

Elizabeth Stearns

Dee Stegman

Peter Steinau

Lib Stone

Stuart Susskind

Joseph Tomain

Anne Trapp

Bill Tucker

Ilene Tucker

Jon Unger

Barbara Wagner

Maurice Wagoner

Steve Wanamaker

Lincoln Ware

David Wellinghoff

Lori Wellinghoff

Jake Whitman

Ann W. Williams

Dick Westheimer

Sallie Westheimer

Kristine Woodworth

Jack Wyant

Peg Wyant

Andrea Levenson Young

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