Ohio Bill Would Let Attorney General Prosecute Those Who Damage State Buildings

Jul 9, 2020

Recent vandalism to the Ohio Statehouse and other high-profile government buildings has prompted an outcry from some of the state’s top leaders. Now, Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow the Ohio Attorney General to go after those who damage public buildings.

At the Statehouse alone, the damage extended to 28 broke windows, blood-colored graffiti on the building's limestone exterior, vandalism to granite and marble monuments, and broken pole lights and lanterns. The total costs of repairs is $158,263.57, according to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.

State Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) says prosecutors ended up dismissing about 60 charges against people accused of damaging the Statehouse and Ohio Supreme Court buildings. His bill, HB 723, would allow Attorney General to handle those situations.

“Hopefully having the Attorney General with that authority, we will put a stop to this because essentially not prosecuting these crimes is like endorsing that behavior," LaRe says.

LaRe says taxpayers should not be footing the bill to repair these state buildings.

Windows are boarded up at the Ohio Statehouse on May 29, 2020, following protests.
Credit David Holm / WOSU

Gov. Mike DeWine said last month that he would not tolerate damage against the Ohio Statehouse, while House Speaker Larry Householder took a step further and threatened to withhold state funding from Columbus to cover the cost of repairs.

Householder also suggested taking control of the Capitol Square area away from Columbus, something that Senate President Larry Obhof suggested isn't possible.