Anti-abortion activist shared tips in probe


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

A Cincinnati anti-abortion activist was in regular contact with Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office during a 2015 Planned Parenthood investigation, and some of her input was shared with state investigators, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

The records shed new light on the internal handling of a probe DeWine launched in response to a secretly taped video that appeared to show Planned Parenthood employees engaged in potentially illegal fetal tissue sales.

DeWine, an abortion opponent and gubernatorial candidate, ultimately found no such tissue sales by the abortion provider, but raised concerns about Planned Parenthood’s disposal of fetal remains he said had to be addressed.

The documents show Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, emailed DeWine’s community liaison detailed suggestions for carrying out the probe, including names, addresses and a lawyer to consult.

The liaison, Richard D. “Dee” Weghorst, forwarded some of Westwood’s communications to senior staff members, including chief of staff Mary Mertz, chief counsel Sheryl Creed Maxfield and then-policy director Ryan Stubenrauch, who’s now the spokesman for DeWine’s gubernatorial campaign.

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, said state investigations need to be impartial and appearing to give special access to those with a particular political ideology is potentially problematic for DeWine.

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