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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 29, 2006

Brinkman ran Cincinnati petition campaign

Cincinnati--The petition drive to stop the city�s new human rights ordinance was run by a state lawmaker, not the anti-gay figures listed as its leaders.

State Rep. Thomas Brinkman, Jr. of Cincinnati was identified as the head of the signature effort, as the Hamilton County prosecutor is probing fraud and forgery that halted it.

The ordinance, which adds sexual orientation and transgendered status to the city�s non-discrimination code, took effect last month after the petition to force a vote on it was withdrawn.

Equal Rights Not Special Rights, backers of the effort, admitted that they didn�t have enough signatures because some were forged.

Brinkman was named in interviews that Citizens for Community Values president Phil Burress and vice president David Miller gave to a conservative columnist and a regional Christian political newspaper.

CCV is an affiliate of the petition group ERNSR, where Burress and Miller hold the same positions.

Brinkman, known for his suit against Miami University�s domestic partner benefits, was not a member of the petition committee or an openly central figure in the referendum campaign. He was also interviewed.

Miller told the Christian paper Citizen USA that Brinkman�s Curry Printing Company printed the petitions and that Brinkman personally �managed the whole project.�

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson reported that Brinkman was to be paid $60,000 if the petition drive was successful, and nothing if it was not.

But Brinkman was advanced $40,000 by ERNSR that he will not have to return, even though the attempt failed, it was also reported.

That $40,000 is the core issue of another controversy.

Ohio law requires that petition circulators �file an itemized statement made under penalty of election falsification, showing in detail� money or things of value paid for circulating petitions, �full names and addresses of all persons to whom such payments or promises were made,� and �names and addresses of anyone who contributed anything of value to be used in circulating such petitions.�

That statement has to be filed within five days of the petitions.

ERNSR instead filed a statement declaring the $40,000, but no indication of who got it, or for what it was used.

Miller included a memo claiming a First Amendment right to withhold all additional information.

Burress and Miller have never been willing to talk to the Gay People�s Chronicle about this.

Miller also tried to explain Brinkman�s difficulty with the campaign to Citizen USA.

�Tom had a group of faithful, trusted employees who were circulators, but he didn�t have enough people collecting,� Miller told the paper.

Miller said that ERNSR was �crunched� by the 30-day time limit, causing the need to �get help from every direction.�

Help came in the form of day laborers that Brinkman hired from the Cincinnati Employment Commission to circulate the petitions.

Burress said last month that one of the day laborers forged signatures, enough to stop the campaign when they were found.

But Miller told the Christian paper ten days later that their opponents played a role.

�The assumption we�re making is that there was a pro-homosexual �mole� that got in and tried to sabotage these petitions,� Miller told Citizen USA.

Miller also blamed media coverage, especially from the Enquirer, which he told Citizen USA was �social engineering� designed to sway readers on issues that advance the �homosexual agenda.�

�It�s so important that people understand that there are some in the major media that have an agenda of their own,� Miller told Citizen USA. �It�s very anti-God and left-leaning and [readers] need to be looking at these stories with a very critical eye.�

Through staff, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters confirmed that a criminal investigation is moving forward, but would not comment further or speculate as to when it would be finished.



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