Since the legislature exempted JobsOhio from ethics laws two years ago, Governor John Kasich‘s privatized agency will not likely face consequences due to an ethics complaint filed Thursday by Ed FitzGerald.
In 2011, the Ohio legislature made the agency self-policing, with possible ethical dilemmas decided by its own board members.
FitzGerald requested a “thorough ethics investigation” of possible conflicts of interest by JobsOhio board members and the governor.
Paul Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, said the only jurisdiction the commission was given over JobsOhio was to receive their financial disclosure statements, which are secret.
Six of the nine members of the JobsOhio board picked by Gov. Kasich have direct financial ties to companies receiving public money. Further, in 2012, Gov. Kasich received money from Worthington Industries, which gets JobsOhio aid money.
“Thankfully, the ethics commission still has clear jurisdiction over the governor, but this can all be cleared up very easily if Gov. Kasich and the members of the JobsOhio board disclose their conflicts, as Ed called for yesterday,” FitzGerald spokeswoman Meredith Tucker said.
Ethical issues with JobsOhio were predicted by the Ethics Commission in February 2011. The panel urged legislators not to exempt the entity from ethics laws that almost all other agencies in the state must follow. “The commission believes that the provisions of the current bill allowing JobsOhio board members to create their own conflict-of-interest rules and to rule on those rules is filled with danger both for board members and the public,” said former state Rep. Ben Rose, then the commission’s chairman.
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