Feds Say Ex-Traffic Camera CEO Bribed Columbus, Cincinnati Elected Officials
The former CEO of the Arizona-based red light camera company Redflex, which runs Columbus' system, has pleaded guilty to her role in an eight year fraud and bribery scheme.
Federal prosecutors say 55-year-old Karen Finley admits that between 2005 and 2013, she participated in a scheme in which the company hired a consultant to make campaign contributions to elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati in return for obtaining or maintaining red light camera contracts. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office says she is prohibited from identifying which elected Columbus officials were involved. But according to The Columbus Dispatch, one of those officials is Columbus City Council President Andy Ginther, who is running for Mayor. The paper cites court records stating that Ginther’s campaign solicited a $20,000 “success fee” to keep the cameras operating in late 2011. Finley, through an unnamed local lobbyist, then made a $20,000 contribution to the Ohio Democratic Party, the documents state.Veteran City Hall lobbyist John Raphael represented Redflex when Council first approved the system in 2005. Prosecutors say Finley also admitted concealing the true nature and source of the payments by the consultant and the company’s payment of false invoices for consulting services, which were then funneled to the campaigns of the elected officials. Finley was indicted in 2014 for a similar scheme involving Chicago's traffic camera system. Elected officials say the systems improve public safety. Critics say they are municipal money-grabs.