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Paying Back the Texting Fine: 'I'm Trying My Best to Take Responsibility'

Cincinnati Public Radio

Response to Thursday's "Gang of Five" texting lawsuit settlement included outrage that the city of Cincinnati will foot the $101,000 bill.

At least four of the Cincinnati council members involved say they intend to pay back their portion of the fine for breaking Ohio's Open Meetings Act.


Former city solicitor John Curp, now a partner with Blank Rome, says the city is allowed to accept the council member's payments even though the fine was assessed to the city.

"The ruling was against the city and the council members in their capacity as council members and not them individually," Curp says. "But there's no prohibition [against] any council member from making a payment or contribution to the city that can then be used to pay the fine."

As for the $90,000 in court fees, Curp says, "Under Ohio Law, the award of attorneys fees is entirely discretionary within the authority of the judge ... the council members would be free to make a contribution of any amount they want, but the ultimate determination of the amount and whether that amount is legitimate belongs to the judge."

"Paying Back the Texting Fine: 'I'm Trying My Best to Take Responsibility'," by Tana Weingartner was published in Cincinnati Public Radio on March 8, 2019.