Mandel criticized on town halls

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's Democratic chairman says he'll discourage his party's 2014 statewide and legislative candidates from conducting publicly funded citizen teleconferences.

Chairman Chris Redfern made the statement Friday as he criticized State Treasurer Josh Mandel for requesting legal clearance from Attorney General Mike DeWine to hold telephone town halls with targeted audiences at taxpayer expense.

DeWine said the meetings are legal as long as they stick to official business or items of general interest and avoid politics.

Legal experts say the opinion also will apply to other statewide candidates.

Redfern said Mandel sought to target his audience as political campaigns do. He said it's wrong to ask taxpayers to fund campaigning.

Republicans criticized Redfern, saying top Ohio Democrats including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown have hosted many such town halls.