David Pepper, political activist, writer, lawyer, former elected official
In this episode, I'm chatting with author David Pepper about his new novel A Simple Choice, independent bookshops, his non-fiction book Laboratories Of Autocracy: A Wake-Up Call From Behind The Lines, and the importance of strengthening democracy at the state level.
David Pepper is a lawyer, writer, political activist, former elected official, and adjunct professor, and served as the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party between 2015 and 2021.
In that role, he was engaged in numerous fights and extensive litigation over voter suppression and election laws in the Buckeye State. Stemming from that work, David appeared in "All In"—the documentary highlighting Stacey Abrams' nation-wide fight for voting rights.
Pepper has written four novels that bridge real-world politics and fiction—including A Simple Choice (released in August 2022)). His first novel, The People's House, earned praise for having "predicted the Russia scandal." The Wall Street Journal named Pepper "one of the best political-thriller writers on the scene."
Born and raised in Cincinnati, David is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian. David earned his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and later earned his J.D. from Yale Law School.
David finished first out of 26 candidates in his first run for political office, and served on Cincinnati City Council from 2001-2005. In 2006, he flipped Hamilton County blue for the first time in 40 years when he ousted the incumbent commissioner; he then served on the Commission from 2007-2010, including as its president in 2009-2010. David was the Democratic candidate for Ohio Auditor in 2010 and Ohio Attorney General in 2014. He was elected chair of the Ohio Democratic Party in December 2014.
In 1999, David clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. After 2000, David also worked in the Cincinnati offices of major law firms Squire Sanders and Blank Rome, focusing his practice on commercial and business litigation, and appellate litigation. David also teaches election and voting rights law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Between his undergraduate and law school years, David spent three years doing international work in St. Petersburg, Russia. Based out of the Center for Strategic and International Studies—a Washington D.C. think tank—he served as a research intern for Zbigniew Brzezinski for part of 1993, followed by several years as the assistant director of a project providing technical assistance to the City of St. Petersburg as it underwent economic reform. In that role, David interacted with international figures such as Henry Kissinger, Paul Bremer, ambassadors, members of Congress, business leaders, and Vladimir Putin, who was then Vice Mayor of St. Petersburg.