Democrat running for Congress inflated intern role to claim bigger job with prosecutor’s office

A Democratic congressional hopeful in Ohio’s special election has made misleading claims about his experience working in a county prosecutor’s office, with public records revealing he was mostly a seasonal certified legal intern or intern supervisor.

Danny O’Connor, Franklin County’s Recorder since 2016 who’s now running for U.S. Congress in Ohio’s 12th district against Republican Ohio State Sen. Troy Balderson, has made his work in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office a central point of his campaign to win a seat in a deep-red district that hasn't elected a Democrat since 1980.

“After graduating law school and passing the Ohio bar exam, Danny worked in the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office in the juvenile division,” reads the biography of O'Connor on his recorder’s website. The same claim has been repeated on his social media accounts and official campaign page for the U.S. Congress.

O’Connor’s LinkedIn page claims he worked at the county prosecutor’s office in the juvenile division between 2011 and 2014. He acquired his law license in Ohio only in 2013.

O’Connor’s LinkedIn page claims he worked at the county prosecutor’s office in the juvenile division between 2011 and 2014. He acquired his law license in Ohio only in 2013.

On the campaign trail, he continued to brag about his work at the prosecutor’s office during a debate in March. “When I worked in the prosecutor’s office, we dealt with expungements all the time of folks who got involved in some stuff when they were in high school, got in trouble, your whole life shouldn’t be ruined because of some decisions that you made when you were younger,” he said.

His claims of experience quickly became an accepted fact. U.S. House Rep. Connor Lamb, D-Pa., issued a fundraising email earlier this month calling the Ohio Democrat a “former prosecutor.” In June, Steve Benen, a producer of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” called O’Connor “former prosecutor and local official.”

Connor Lamb Fundraiser

U.S. House Rep. Connor Lamb, D-PA., issued a fundraising email earlier this month calling the Ohio Democrat a “former prosecutor.”  (Fox News)

But public records reveal that O’Connor is loose with the facts when it comes to his past work experience. According to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office and its payroll data, at the prosecutor’s office he held titles such as “Prosecutor Legal Intern Supervisor” and “Prosecutor Legal Intern Certified.”

They weren’t long-term positions and the employment dates resemble seasonal jobs, despite O’Connor’s suggestions that he worked there for three straight years.

In 2011, he was in the county prosecutor’s office for about two months, earning just more than $4,000. In 2012, he was back again in the office for a brief period in January and then again for around three months during the summer. He earned almost $5,000 that year from the job.

The next year he was back for a brief period in January and only after that spent seven months in continuous employment at the county’s prosecutor’s office. He earned nearly $16,000 for the nearly 8-months of work that year, payroll data shows.

According to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office and its payroll data, at the prosecutor’s office O'Connor held titles such as “Prosecutor Legal Intern Supervisor” and “Prosecutor Legal Intern Certified.”

Fox News spoke with Annie Ellison, O'Connor's campaign manager, about the discrepancies between the claims made by O’Connor and the actual public data. 

"Danny is proud of the work he did in the prosecutor’s office, has never overstated or misrepresented the work he did, and his campaign did not write or edit the email referenced by Fox News. Voters of the 12th Congressional District care about protecting health care, Social Security, and Medicare — not the wording of an email sent by a supporter," she said.

daniel oconnor website

Daniel O'Connor's Franklin County Recorder bio page includes: "After graduating law school and passing the Ohio Bar exam, Danny worked in the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office in the juvenile division. In 2014, Danny joined his current law firm of Weis and O’Connor, where he is a partner and specializes in family law. In 2015, Danny and his partner, Amy Weis, were honored to contribute to the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyer's Amicus Brief, which asked the Supreme Court of the United States to rule in favor of marriage equality."

The race in Ohio is the only special election in the nation before the November midterm elections following the resignation of Rep. Pat Tiberi. The O’Connor campaign attracted flattering media coverage from the New York Times and other outlets, claiming he can replicate the success of Rep. Lamb in Pennsylvania, who won earlier this year in a district that voted heavily for President Trump.

According to various polls, the district slightly favors the Republican candidate, though the O’Connor campaign told Fox News they are highly encouraged by the early voting numbers and remain optimistic about winning the race on August 7. The independent Cook Political Report claims the race is a tossup.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.