Open Letter: Prosecutors’ Unjust Treatment Of PG Sittenfeld
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.
Clare Zlatic Blankemeyer
Anna K. Carey
Dr. Thomas Carothers
Leo J.P. D’Cruz
Paul De Marco
Dr. Igor Dumbadze
John Frank, Jr.
Jane Simon Fritz
Louise A. Head
Lisa Head James
Dr. Robert Kahn
Rabbi Ken Kanter
Polk Laffoon IV
Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr.
Katherine G. Overbey
Janet Allen Reid
Rob Richardson, Jr.
Kitty Strauss Rosenthal
Dr. David Schwartz
Councilmember Chris Seelbach
Dr. Edward Silberstein
Ann W. Williams
Andrea Levenson Young