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Growing Chorus Laments Lack of JobsOhio Oversight

English: John Kasich of Ohio, as a member of t...

English: John Kasich of Ohio, as a member of the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 105th United States Congress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer lamented the courts’ lack of jurisdiction over Gov. John Kasich‘s privatized job-creation board last week, he joined a growing chorus.

State lawmakers created JobsOhio in 2011 in a bill containing sweeping exemptions from public records and ethics laws.

Justice Pfeifer, a Republican, wondered aloud during Wednesday’s oral arguments in a JobsOhio case whether Ohio’s judicial branch of government will ever get to weigh in on its legality.

“I sort of see a big wall,” he told the state’s attorney, Stephen Carney. “It all looks alike, it’s all painted the same color, and somehow the Supreme Court or the courthouse is behind the wall. But finding the door, where is it? I mean you say it’s there, but I’m not understanding where the door is.”

Another Republican, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, subpoenaed JobsOhio’s books in March for a performance review his office was attempting to conduct of JobsOhio. Yost decried JobsOhio’s lack of coöperation in turning over financial records he said he needed to do a thorough job.

JobsOhio complied with the subpoena under protest, but that door is now closed. Lawmakers in the Republican-led Legislature passed a bill making sure that JobsOhio’s books remain private.

Members of the Ohio Ethics Commission watch out for potential pay-to-play schemes and financial conflicts of interest, but their role is also limited when it comes to JobsOhio. In September, the commission warned six of nine members of JobsOhio’s board of directors that their business interests raise potential conflicts of interest. The issue ended there, as JobsOhio was crafted to be self-policing when it comes to such conflicts.

Executive director Paul Nick briefed the board on the matter during an August flap brought to the panel’s attention by Kasich’s gubernatorial rival in 2014, Democrat Ed FitzGerald. He read from an Ohio law that says JobsOhio “shall not be considered a state or public department, agency, office, body, institution, or instrumentality for purposes of (the ethics law).”

Chairman Merom Brachman suggested it was pointless for Democrats to raise such issues, because the commission had no power in the matter.

Via The Seattle P-I.


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