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Donations to Ohio attorney general's charity have doubled since he took office

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 7:27 p.m.

COLUMBUS — Lawyers, law firms and an Ohio lobbyist who have business in Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office all have contributed to a charity important to DeWine and his family, an Associated Press review found, and the donations have doubled since he assumed his new position.

The charity, Hands Together Inc., operates a school in Haiti named for DeWine's daughter, who died in a 1993 car crash. The tuition-free school provides meals and health care in an impoverished slum.

Funds raised at DeWine events for the school roughly doubled when he became Ohio's attorney general, from the less than $300,000 it had generated for years to more than $600,000, federal business filings show.

The donations show how companies or attorneys who seek to influence DeWine can find various ways to do so. Yet even the appearance of impropriety risks damaging the integrity of the office. DeWine, a Republican, serves as the state's top lawyer and law enforcer.

Donors who gave $5,000 or more in 2012 and 2013, as self-reported by the charity, included an Ohio lobbyist named Michael Kiggin who went to law school with DeWine, and representatives at two law firms he lobbies for that have landed lucrative outside counsel work with DeWine's office.

Ohio business people with histories of giving to DeWine's political campaigns as well as the charitable arms of three corporations involved in litigation with the state — Merck, Aetna and Medical Mutual of Ohio — contributed.

Spokespeople for Merck and Aetna said their giving was tied to programs that match charitable gifts by employees and retirees.

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