DeWine speaks at GOP dinner

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Belmont County Republican Party met for the 2014 Lincoln Day Dinner Tuesday night with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as the keynote speaker. He delivered his speech to a crowded hall in Undo’s that included local officials and representatives.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as attorney general of the state,” he said, adding that the voters elected him to take a leadership role. “It makes a difference who you put in office.”

For example, he praised Gov. John Kasich for his passion and energy in encouraging the growth of jobs by creating an environment to facilitate business.

DeWine said he has endeavored to run his office like a business, not a bureaucracy, with a focus on efficiency and results.

“We try to remember that in the attorney general’s office,” he said, adding that evidence from across the state is sent to his office’s labs. He noted that when he took office, they had a backlog of more than 100 days in some cases before evidence was processed.

DeWine said his office doubled the amount of DNA work, but now has an average of 22 days before evidence is processed. In high-priority cases, evidence can be processed in 48 hours.

“That’s what leadership is,” he said.

In addition, 3,000 out of 4,000 untested rape kits have been processed, with some that had not been looked at in more than 20 years, with one in three cases yielding results. DeWine said the results have convicted the guilty and exonerated the innocent. About 75 people have been indicted in Cuyahoga County alone. About 200 cold cases are solved per month.

DeWine said his office’s accomplishments included gathering evidence to shut down a nursing home for neglect and fraud.

He added that he also has a duty to protect that state from federal overreach into individuals’ lives. To this end, he has joined with other states to file a suit challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

He has also joined in other suits on the grounds that the federal administration is exceeding its authority with the coal industry and generally stretching the law beyond the original intent.

Congressman Bill Johnson spoke about his recent trip to Israel and his realization that both the United States and that nation were founded on the same principles. He said there is a need for greater strength in the nation’s foreign policy.

“The world is becoming a more and more dangerous and perilous place,” he said.

He added that he would continue to fight what he described as attacks on the coal industry. He said he would also fight administrative overreach.

“We have every reason to be optimistic,” he said, adding that the strength of the United States rests in the people, not the government. “One president cannot bring this nation to our knees.”

He thanked everyone who supported him in prior elections but added that his is one of many races for the next contest.

“Our Republican Party has got the right answers,” he said. “We are bigger than any problem we face.”

Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judith French introduced themselves and asked for support in the upcoming election.

They noted that the decisions made in court makes an impact in the lives of Ohioans. State Rep. Andy Thompson also spoke about the importance of Election Day.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com