By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — Democrat Richard Cordray, trailing badly in polls in the Ohio attorney general’s race, displayed three negative ads he hopes will draw him closer in the race with incumbent Betty Montgomery.
“I have to make sure that people realize the mistakes Betty Mont gomery has made, so they know who they are voting for,” Mr. Cordray said.
Two ads focus on the case of Anthony Dulkoski, a boy from Harrison County, whose mother was murdered when he was four years old. The Ohio Victims of Crime Fund, which pays money to those hurt by violent crime, awarded him $47,500.
Anthony was adopted by his grandparents, Betty and Thomas Dulkoski, so that he could be covered under their health insurance plan. In 1994, Ms. Montgomery sued the Dulkoskis to recover the money, saying that the boy was no longer eligible for the funds because he had been adopted.
“It was rough having her try to get the money back,” said Mr. Dulkoski, who appears in both ads and had a heart attack during the litigation he blames on the stress of being sued. “I think if this man [Mr. Cordray] was in office, we could have avoided all this hassle.”
After the case received media attention, Ms. Montgomery dropped the suit and apologized to the family. The money remains in a college fund for Anthony, now 13 and dreaming of being an astronaut.
But Mr. Cordray pointed to other problems with the way the crime victim’s fund is run, including high administrative costs and what he said is “an adversarial posture” toward victims.
The third ad is directed at the 1997 settlement Ms. Montgomery approved for4 a series of lawsuits filed against the state by inmate victims of the 1994 Lucasville prison riots, in which 11 people, including a prison guard, were killed.
Ms. Montgomery approved a $4.1 million settlement with the prisoners, the largest in the history of prison riots. The ad criticizes settling “without a fight.”
Ms. Montgomery has said re peat edly that the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections requested the settlement, and that it saved millions in legal fees had the suits been fought.
The ad criticizes Ms. Mont gomery for not doing enough to stop private prisons like the one in Youngstown, from which six prisoners escaped this summer.
Ms. Montgomery, a former Wood County prosecutor, is focusing on her law-enforcement positions, as she did in 1994, when she unseated incumbent Democrat Lee Fisher.