I accept the findings of the Inspector General’s report. I was wrong and I’m sorry for my lack of judgment,” said Stan Heffner on August 2, 2012, the day the Inspector General released a detailed, 14-page report exposing Heffner’s “lack of judgment”, or as we call it in the real world — breaking the law.  Heffner did not mean that he would be more than willing accept the appropriate punishment for his misdeeds.

Inspector General Randy Meyer made it perfectly clear that Stan Heffner unequivocally ignored the law as he testified before the Senate Finance Committee (Heffner feigns ignorance; would that be better?) and repeatedly misused state resources (i.e., his secretary) as he sought to leave Ohio for a private sector position.

Today, prosecutors in central Ohio informed the Inspector General that no charges would be forthcomingdespite our belief that Mr. Heffner acted inappropriately in both instances.”  We can only surmise that prosecutors never read the Inspector General’s report since it contains language that contradicts this announcement:

Based on the prior relationship between ODE and ETS, it was inappropriate for Heffner to give testimony in support of this bill given the strong likelihood that ETS could stand to profit.

By providing testimony to the legislature as the state’s principal employee for leadership in education, in support of a bill that could and ultimately did benefit a corporation with which he had entered into an agreement of employment, Heffner failed to meet the standards of proper governmental conduct as are commonly accepted in the community and subverts the process of government.

Accordingly, the Office of the Ohio Inspector General finds reasonable cause to believe wrongful acts or omissions occurred in these instances.  [Defined in Ohio Revised Code 121.41]

That was just about one single sentence of his testimony.  The IG had this to say about Heffner’s chauvinist misuse of state funds for personal business:

The investigation by the Office of the Ohio Inspector General discovered numerous occasions in which Heffner encouraged and directed his private business associates to communicate with him via his state-of-Ohio issued cell phone and his state-of-Ohio email account.  Heffner directed state of Ohio employees to work, while being paid by the state of Ohio, on business matters that were outside the interest of the ODE and purely for the private business interests of Heffner.

Accordingly, the Office of the Ohio Inspector General finds reasonable cause to believe wrongful acts or omissions occurred in these instances.  [Defined in Ohio Revised Code 121.41]

Yet when the decision was left in the hands of another state office who was not involved in the investigation and who ultimately received no recommendation from the Inspector General, Stan Heffner was let completely off the hook.  He simply walked away from his post with full retirement and benefits.  In fact, the State Board of Education hasn’t even suspended his Ohio educators’ licenses nor publicly condemned his behavior.

So while we often think of Ohio’s ethics laws as ensuring appropriate and legal behavior for state officials, the case of Stan Heffner reveals that those laws are merely suggestions that no one is required to follow.

What were Heffner’s thoughts on the announcement that he faces absolutely no punishment for his law-breaking actions?

“I never committed a crime and I’m just glad the prosecutors agree with that position. I never intended to hurt anybody. I never intended to profit from anything,” Heffner said.

Ahh, the I never intended to defense.

We’re glad to know that it’s acceptable again.

 

Evangelize!
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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carrie-Preston/100000765994211 Carrie Preston

    This is ludicrous if I had done this They would have had my teaching arse in prison already.

  • DublinIrishBob

    But if a principal of an inner city school withdraws a student who hasn’t been seen or heard from in weeks, he is going to the big house!

  • midview132

    What is the sense of having laws and rules if no one follows them and they cannot be enforced anyways?

  • halloweenjack

    Actually, you can include Republican county prosecutor Ron O’Brien too as his office was quoted. Nice try though.

  • danngoingdown

    except o’brien has jurisdiction over felonies and the allegations at issue would have been misdemeanors, which is pfeiffer’s jurisdiction. nice try at confusing plunderbund’s readership though.

  • Leonidas

    We discussed the possible criminal charges in this post.
    http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/08/04/inspector-general-should-have-referred-heffners-ethics-violations-to-prosecutor/

    @danngoingdown: It is important to separate the possible ethics charges from the theft in office charges.

    The ethics charges remain, as we noted at the time, a “close call.” Because these charges would be misdemenaors in some instances, it would fall within the jurisdiction of both Democrat Pfeiffer and Republican O’Brien. Given that there is not a lot of controlling legal authority on this aspect of the case, even if we might make a different call, we would find it hard to be overly critical of a prosecutor exercising his discretion not to pursue this matter.

    The same could not be said for the theft in office charges. These charges are felonies and within the exclusive jurisdiction of Republican O’Brien. (Sorry @danngoingdown. You are incorrect here.) Really, this should not be a close call. Cases for theft in office have been brought in situations where the the state employee engaged in much less blatant use of state time and resources for personal benefits. We highlighted a bunch of cases in this post: http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/04/10/union-county-prosecutor-gives-sweet-deal-to-fellow-republican/

    Lots of questions to ponder. Is this a case of a Republican Prosecutor protecting the appointee of a Republican Governor? Should O’Brien have appointed an independent prosecutor, perhaps from outside of Central Ohio?

  • John W.

    It is unbelievable that we could have such corruption in the year 2012.

  • Dmoore

    The State Board of Education is complicit since they hired the guy knowing he had testified to the legislature on behalf of the company that hired him away from the ODE. This is a convolutesd mess that only republicans could make.

  • Dmoore

    Help yourself to state resources ODE employees. And be sure to set up sweetheart deals with vendors. When the number one guy can get away with it, why not you? Like they say, an organization rots from the top down.

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