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In a speech after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., Dennis Kucinich said fellow Democrat Richard Cordray ran his attorney general’s office as "an extension of the NRA."
That included Cordray helping a gun rights group hold a rally outside of the statehouse, Kucinich said in a Feb. 27 speech to the City Club in Cleveland. Kucinich has vowed to make guns a key topic as he competes with Democrats, including Cordray, in the May 8 primary for governor.
"One unpublicized official act was a very unusual intervention with the Capitol Square Commission," Kucinich said. "As the commission’s attorney, the attorney general directed it to permit an armed group to have a rally on the statehouse grounds, even taking the extraordinary step of assuming personal responsibility for waiving an insurance requirement in the event of an incident."
Our fact-checking ears perked up with an "unpublicized official act," so we went in search of the facts about Cordray’s actions related to a 2010 gun-rights rally.
Kucinich was referring to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, which oversees the statehouse in Columbus. The Attorney General’s office serves as legal counsel to the board.
Kucinich was talking about a rally organized by Ohioans for Concealed Carry. The event was part of a national wave of marches leading up to the national Second Amendment March in Washington in April 2010.
The clip starts with Dan White, who was active with Ohioans for Concealed Carry, saying: "I’m not lying, if it wasn’t for them I don’t think we would be on the square right now today. They were instrumental. They did their jobs very well."
Cordray, as attorney general, then followed: "Thank you, Dan. So as he said, I’m counting on all of you because if there are any troubles it's my responsibility, but I am comfortable with that. I’m pleased to be here today at this Second Amendment rally."
Months later while speaking at an Ohioans for Concealed Carry rally in August 2010, Cordray recounted the difficulties in pulling off the April rally.
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board was "very unhappy and resistant" about the planned rally, Cordray said.
"In the end, after having no real leg to stand on and denying a permit, they decided at the last minute they were going to require some giant insurance policy to have to be obtained for people to be able to have a rally on the statehouse grounds," Cordray said.
Cordray said he spoke with board chair Richard Finan and asked, "Look, you don’t require this of other groups, why would you be requiring this here?"
According to Cordray, Finan then asked, "Are you willing to take responsibility?"
"And I said, yes, I am willing to take responsibility," Cordray told the group.
Finan, who has since retired from the board, told PolitiFact that he recalled Cordray reaching out to him before the rally.
"He told us we could go ahead and allow the rally to occur on the statehouse grounds," Finan said.
We sought records from the board related to the 2010 rally, but a spokesman told us that it only keeps records for four years.
However, Jeff Garvas, who organized the 2010 rally and is the president of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, shared with PolitiFact some of his correspondence with the board.
Garvas told PolitiFact that his group obtained a permit from the advisory board about eight months before the event. Then, about two weeks before the rally, he said the board told the group that it had to pay for 10 state troopers and promise that no one would show up with a firearm. At some point, the board also told the group that it would have to obtain a half-million dollar insurance policy, he said. (Its special events policy states that the board may require the permit holder to file a certificate of insurance at least seven days prior to the event.)
Garvas sent the board’s executive director, William Carleton, a letter raising objections to the firearm ban at the rally.
Carleton wrote in an April 10 letter that Garvas had also verbally sought a waiver for the bond requirement and proof of insurance.
Carleton granted the waiver as long as the group met certain conditions including holstering firearms and paying $1,000 for five state troopers. Carleton waived the requirement for a bond and proof of insurance.
Carleton’s letter doesn’t mention Cordray, but an assistant attorney general was copied on the letter.
Cordray’s spokesman Mike Gwin didn’t dispute Kucinich’s statement.
Gwin said that the Attorney General’s office "provided legal advice during the course of the permitting process that denying this group a rally permit would likely result in a costly and successful lawsuit by the protest organizers, as had happened with similar denied permits for statehouse rallies in the past."
Kucinich said Cordray directed an Ohio commission to "permit an armed group to have a rally on the statehouse grounds, even taking the extraordinary step of assuming personal responsibility for waiving an insurance requirement in the event of an incident."
Kucinich was referring to a rally held in April 2010. A video shows Cordray speaking at the rally where he said "if there are any troubles it's my responsibility but I am comfortable with that."
Months later, in another video, Cordray said that when the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board denied a permit and required a "giant insurance policy" Cordray spoke with the board’s president and agreed to take responsibility for the event.
Finan, the advisory board chair at the time, told PolitiFact that Cordray gave the go-ahead for the rally.
Cordray didn’t appear to play the only role in allowing the group to hold the rally. The executive director of the board ultimately granted the waiver after exchanging communications with Ohioans for Concealed Carry.
We rate this claim True.
Dennis Kucinich campaign website, "Video surfaces showing former AG cheered By gun-toting civilians on Ohio Statehouse grounds," March 1, 2018
Youtube, Richard Cordray speaking at Ohioans for Concealed Carry event, Aug. 2010
Dennis Kucinich campaign website news, Accessed March 6, 2018
Richard Cordray Facebook, Post about guns, Feb. 19, 2018
Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, Letter from executive director William Carleton to Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, April 8, 2010
Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, CSRAB special events policy, Accessed March 6, 2018
Buckeye Firearms Association, "Buckeye Firearms Association endorses Richard Cordray for Ohio Attorney General," July 21, 2010
Buckeye Firearms Association, "Richard Cordray, another Ohio Democrat who ‘gets it," Nov. 3, 2006
Columbus Dispatch, "Is Kucinich catching a gun control wave across Ohio?" Feb. 19, 2018
Columbus Dispatch, "Gubernatorial candidates weigh in on guns," (Accessed in Nexis) Feb. 20, 2018
Cincinnati.com, "The NRA has a love-hate relationship with these Ohio Republicans – and Democrats," Feb. 26, 2018
New York Times, "Guns Create a Political Minefield in the Midterms," Feb. 28, 2018
Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Ohio Supreme Court upholds state law blocking Cleveland's gun law," Dec. 29, 2010
NRA Press release, "Bipartisan majority of attorneys general file amicus brief supporting NRA’s stance in pivotal Supreme court case," Nov. 23, 2009
Washington Post, "Militia movement will be packing heat at gun rally on the Potomac," April 19, 2010
Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Ad blasts Cordray, invokes LeBron," (Accessed in Nexis) Oct. 28, 2010
Interview, Jeff Garvas, Ohioans for Concealed Carry founder and president, March 6, 2018
Interview, Andy Juniewicz, Dennis Kucinich campaign spokesman, March 5, 2018
Interview, Luke Stedke, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board spokesman, March 6, 2018
Interview, Mike Gwin, Richard Cordray campaign spokesman, March 7, 2018
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