Cincinnati city councilmember accuses mayor of suspected bribery

UPDATED @ 8:05 p.m.: A Cincinnati City Councilmember is accusing the mayor, John Cranley, of suspected bribery, our news partners at are reporting.

Councilmember Wendell Young said he plans to go to the U.S. attorney's office Wednesday about filing a complaint against the mayor. is reporting that Young said Cranley called him Saturday about a severance package for City Manager Harry Black "he has been shopping around to various members of the city council for their vote."

Cranley asked Young what he wanted for his vote, according to Young.

Young said he "told him absolutely nothing and hung up."

After the call, Young said he "felt there was something wrong" with the offer. He called the Ohio Ethics Commission and said an investigator suggested he go to law enforcement.

Holly Stutz Smith, Cranley's deputy chief of staff, called Young's move "another in a long line of political stunts."

"Like the other frivolous suit Councilman Young filed against the mayor ... we're confident this one will be dismissed," she told In 2016, Young filed an unfair labor practices complaint against Cranley for dealing directly with the police union in negotiating pay raises.

Chris Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University, said it's common practice for a politician to offer up policy or budget changes in exchange for a deal.

He called it "politics 101."

The way Young described his exchange with Cranley doesn't seem improper, Kelley told

"Politics is built on this," Kelley said. "Anybody who is in politics knows this."

Only if Cranley offered up something for personal gain -- such as a campaign contribution or a city contract for a relative -- is it an issue.

"If he’s doing something you get private gain on, that’s clearly illegal," Kelley said.

Offers to tweak the budget or agree to new policy in exchange for a "yes" vote on Black’s buyout would not cross that threshold, he said.

The city council had been scheduled to vote on a severance package for Black last week, but Cranley pulled the $423,767 deal from the agenda just minutes before the meeting began.

Cranley asked Black to resign more than two weeks ago following a controversy in the police department that led to an assistant chief being ousted. Police Chief Eliot Isaac wrote in a memo that concluded the former assistant chief undermined the Collaborative Agreement refresh process.

Talks between Cranley and Black over a possible resignation apparently broke down. Then the drama escalated. Cranley said Black made other city employees "uncomfortable" by discussing an accidental trip to a topless bar during a taxpayer-funded trip to Denver in 2016.

As of last week, four councilmembers including the vice mayor supported a buyout package for the city manager. Five councilmembers were opposed to the deal.

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