The Redflex Bribery Scandal Reaches Ohio

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

It’s the kind of disgraceful corruption that would have seen its perpetrators swinging from a tree in a more forthright age: an alleged $2 million bribery program that has already seen a Redflex consultant plead guilty to charges of delivering over $570,000 in cash and other bribes to Chicago’s former managing deputy commissioner of transportation. (Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who was long, ahem, a tireless ally of Redflex before reluctantly ending the city contract with the firm when all the evidence on the issue because too obvious to be ignored any further, was re-elected in a runoff election recently.)

But the blood-soaked hands of Redflex, whose cameras often increase accidents at the intersections where they are making money for the company, have been putting money in other pockets outside Chicagoland.

Karen Finley, the former CEO of Redflex, has been implicated in the $2M Chicago bribery case, but she’s already pleaded guilty to charges that she funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party in Ohio and its candidates. One of those Democrats, Columbus City Council chair and mayoral candidate Andrew Ginther, apparently flat-out solicited a $20,000 bribe, according to federal prosecutors.

Insofar as anybody with two eyes and a functioning cerebrum has been able to figure out for a long time just how corrupt the red-light-camera business is, the various disclaimers from the Democratic Party of Ohio and Redflex itself make for fascinating, almost hilarious, reading.

Quoth Redflex spokes-critter Tilden Katz: “The government’s actions are not a reflection of today’s Redflex, they are a reflection on the company’s past — a past that the company moved beyond over two years ago by taking specific, strong steps to improve compliance.” It was, like, totally about two years ago! The distant past! Mistakes were made! Just censure us and let’s move on!

Now for quotes from Mr. Ginther and the Party:

“I had absolutely no knowledge of these activities and did not take part in them,” Ginther said in a statement released by his campaign. “While I am not a subject of this inquiry, I have been asked to provide records that may help the investigation into Redflex. I’ve fully cooperated and will continue to assist in bringing these people to justice.”

Federal investigators also asked for state Democratic Party records.

“A few days ago, the Ohio Democratic Party was asked to produce documents going back a number of years, and we are in the process of complying with that request,” spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis said in a statement.

You do that, Andy G! You bring these people to justice! You’re a regular Bobby Kennedy!

We can give the last word to a member of the loyal opposition, quoted in the Columbus Dispatch:

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican and vocal opponent of red-light cameras, called on cities using the devices to immediately end their lawsuit against the state, apologize to the General Assembly and refund fines to drivers. One of those drivers would be Seitz, fined for running a red light in Columbus.

“We always knew it wasn’t about public safety. It was about money; we just didn’t know it was about shady money,” Seitz said in a statement.

“(Friday’s) criminal case proves how right I was, even though I never dreamed that municipal officials would take bribes to fleece their own taxpayers.”

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  • Baconpope Baconpope on Jun 22, 2015

    1984 played conservative and arrived 31 years late. Everyone has to admit that it is the cameras' fault. Of course, a State senator couldn't be at fault. In fact, the lights themselves must have been to blame for all previous accidents. Studies have shown that there are NO accidents at lights where lights do not exist. All of us with cerebrums know that if traffic were completely unregulated and not monitored, there would be absolutely ZERO recorded accidents. How perfect would that be?

  • on Jun 22, 2015

    Read Jack's post again. This is a story about political corruption and human greed. The fact that the corruption and greed affects everyday normal motorists lands the story on this website. As it should. I do believe that the greed and corruption is not the divine providence of a single party. Regardless of party, it's our problem to fix. Yours and mine. All of us. A good start would be if we all really cared who runs for school board in our communities. Sounds silly you say? Not really. A school board seat is the entry level position for a politician. These are the people that end up running for city council. Those people become Mayors, State Representatives, State Senators, and so on, and so on. We just don't care who is sitting on our school boards. My neighbors, friends and family are always presenting me with pitches for people they know. "He/She is my neighbor, I'd appreciate it if you'd vote for them." Well, that's fine, as far as it goes. Do we know if any of those people are NRA members? Anti-gun people? Religious? Haters? Greedy? Ambitious without principle? Do we care? No. We don't. We elect all sorts of people to these low-level positions without even going to meet them. They end up later in positions of power and then we can't believe what they've done. Shame on us. One of the more notorious political leaders of our time once quipped that "All politics is local." He was SO right, but for all the wrong reasons. In his world you took that as gospel to hook up every kind of corruptible person at the entry level so you could manipulate them later. Tip O'Neal was his name. Was that philosophy successful? You bet it was. Was he right? You bet he was. And knowing that, we all need to pay more attention to these entry-level political races. We wouldn't be talking about Redflex now if we were more diligent about who we're electing to school boards in years past. We are not electing honest people. At any level. Please, go forth and be more diligent.

    • See 1 previous
    • on Jun 23, 2015

      @05lgt You're not very good at it or you would have noticed I spelled Tip O'Neill's name incorrectly. There's hope for you... *wink*

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.