WCPO: P.G. Sittenfeld trial

UC’s David Niven weighs in on the Sittenfeld case and political fall out

UC political scientist David Niven has his fingers on the pulse of national, state and local government; and Niven’s opinion is one the media relies on to explain the overarching effects of political actions.

In the case of P.G. Sittenfeld, a former Cincinnati City Councilman now on trial for corruption involving development deals, Niven says it’s less about one man and more about the entire political system.

“This is a case about the way American politics works,” Niven told WCPO. “If you win this case, you will literally take thousands of officeholders and you will shake them by the lapels and tell them you can’t simply sit around in this cesspool of money, you have to find another way.”     

The FBI arrested three City Council members on separate charges of public corruption in 2020. Former Councilmember Tamaya Dennard, a Democrat, pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud and was released from prison last month. Former Councilman Jeff Pastor, a Republican, is awaiting trial in a separate public corruption case. Sittenfeld, a Democrat, is the first council member to face a jury.

Niven says the burden is on the prosecutors is to draw that straight line between the actions and the money. And it’s a difficult one to draw: “It is legal to do things. It is legal to take money. It is not legal to do things for money,” he says.

Niven is an associate professor in UC’s School of Public and international affairs and is an often-cited expert on American politics. His research focus is on political campaigns, gerrymandering, political communication and death penalty policy.

Watch the WCPO interview

Niven was also cited in The Cincinnati Herald: Jury selection in P.G. Sittenfeld’s public corruption trial beginning today

Featured image at top of Cincinnati Skyline/Adobe.    

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