The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 12, 2012

Message, not money

Ex-Geneva attorney shuns cash, elected to Supreme Court

When William O’Neill took his first swing at the Geneva-on-the-Lake Golf Course on Sunday, he did it with 52 percent of the vote for Ohio Supreme Court justice, and like Frank Sinatra sang — he did it his way.

O’Neill, who began his legal career in Geneva and is now a Geauga County resident, is proud  — and he’ll tell anyone and everyone about it — that his victory over Justice Robert Cupp, a Republican, was earned, not bought.

“This year it came down to message, not money,” he said. “There was so much money being spent this year. If Justice Cupp had made his goal of raising $1 million, it wouldn’t have made a difference. It was the year of the message and I was able to get the message out.”

The message got out, but on O’Neill’s terms. He refused to take campaign contributions. He won his judgeship on $4,000 of his own money and with the slogan “no money from nobody.”

“I saw the perfect storm coming a full year ago,” he said. “I knew what was going to happen this year. This is the first year that Citizens United unleashed an unlimited supply of money and it came raining down on the voters and nobody was happy. The voters are unhappy with the barrage of negative ads they have been subjected to, and it didn’t win anyone a spot on the Ohio Supreme Court. I’ve said it all year — money and judges don’t mix. Never have, never will.”

O’Neill said Citizen’s United’s target was painted on his forehead this year.

“I was the was the direct target of $750,000 in negative TV ads, which blew up in their face,” he said. “Those so-called ‘influence ads’ didn’t influence anyone.”

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