Ohio Democratic senator Sherrod Brown in an August letter praised a left-wing prosecutor candidate in Cleveland who has endorsed calls to defund police, end cash bail, and pull cops from schools, a Washington Free Beacon review found.
Brown on August 7 wrote to Cuyahoga County prosecutor hopeful Matthew Ahn to thank the candidate for "speaking out," a photo of the letter shared by Ahn shows. Ahn, a left-wing law professor known for his progressive views, has long associated himself with the movement to defund police. At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Ahn argued that "nothing short of defunding" would combat the "white supremacist infiltration of police forces." Ahn also called to "end cash bail" and "end police presence in schools," and in 2021, the law professor emphasized the need to "rethink the role of police, who continue to protect and serve a social order that never had any value to begin with."
Brown's willingness to associate with Ahn comes as the Democratic senator approaches a difficult reelection bid in a state that backed former president Donald Trump by 8 points in 2020. As Brown approaches that race, he has worked to rally behind police officers—in January, the Democrat lauded law enforcement officials for putting "their lives on the line each day, facing stressful and often dangerous situations, to protect Ohioans." Following George Floyd's death in 2020, however, Brown sang a different tune, arguing that police forces that do not make reforms should not receive funding.
"Policing didn't create our nation's institutionalized racism. It's a product of it, and it reinforces it," Brown said.
Ahn did not return a request for comment. A Brown campaign spokesman said the Democrat's letter, which came roughly one week after Ahn launched his prosecutorial campaign, referred to an op-ed Ahn wrote on a state ballot measure that did not deal with policing.
But Brown continued to promote Ahn's campaign after sending the letter—the senator appeared alongside Ahn at a Cleveland-area Labor Day parade, which Ahn said included his "incredible campaign team and supporters." Brown's campaign said the senator "has no plans to endorse" in Ahn's race and did not answer questions regarding Ahn's support for the defund police movement.
Ahn is challenging fellow Democrat and incumbent Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O'Malley, who has criticized Ahn as both inexperienced and extreme on criminal justice issues.
"He's never practiced in a courtroom in common pleas in Ohio. He's the least experienced candidate to ever run for county prosecutor, maybe not just in Cuyahoga, but the entire state," O'Malley told the Cleveland-based Scene. "Does he think his platform of defund the police—which he's supported on social media over the years—is appropriate given the level of violence we're seeing in our community?"