On Wednesday morning we called for State Auditor Dave Yost to look into the shady funding practices at JobsOhio after it was revealed that the private development organization received at least $5.6 Million in additional state funding without the knowledge of the legislature, which had only approved $1 Million for the group.
And boy did we get what we asked for – and a whole lot more.
By day’s end Yost had issued a subpoena to JobsOhio, ordering them to turn over financial records he had been asking for since last year.
The next day State Rep. John Carney ODP Chairman Chris Redfern were holding a press conference on the matter and State Reps. Denise Driehaus and Michael Ashford were requesting a House Panel with JobsOhio.
Speaker Batchelder even admitted he had no idea where the extra money was coming from, telling the Dispatch ”he wasn’t ‘sure where the number that was in the paper came from’ and [he] would be meeting with Kasich.”
For a day at least, it seemed like everything we’ve been saying for years about JobsOhio’s lack of transparency and accountability was finally being taken seriously by elected officials from both parties. It seemed like the truth about JobsOhio was finally going to come out.
Batchelder should be pissed off that the Kasich administration circumvented his authority and didn’t even include him in the discussion about sending millions of state dollars to JobsOhio. But instead, he turns around the next day and defends the Governor and while attacking Yost for daring to do his job.
Batch was now telling the Dispatch that ”there was an arrangement made which I think was visible, I knew about it, and the governor didn’t tell me.” And he told the the Toledo Blade ”there isn’t any power for [Yost] to do what he’s doing … He doesn’t have that authority to go into a private corporation and audit it.”
Actually, Mr. Speaker, he most certainly does have that power.
ORC 117.10 says: ”The auditor of state also may audit the accounts of private institutions, associations, boards, and corporations receiving public money for their use and may require of them annual reports in such form as the auditor of state prescribes.”
And JobsOhio most certainly received public money, not just in the form of the $1 Million initial allocation from the legislature and the millions more in grants the legislature knew nothing about, but also the state liquor franchise which gives JobsOhio billions in state liquor revenue. And Section 187.07 and 187.08 of HB1, the bill that created JobsOhio, specifically discuss “ public money coming into the possession of JobsOhio.”
Also notice that the law doesn’t say the Auditor can only audit the public money or certain accounts. It says he can “audit the accounts” of “corporations”. That’s all accounts. Including public money and private donations alike. Period. End of story.
We’re now hearing the Republicans are planning to introduce an amendment to remove this authority from the Auditor as it relates to JobsOhio.
The question is: what are they trying to hide?
Are they afraid we’ll find out the $7 Million in private donations came from big Kasich donors or from companies getting loans from JobsOhio?
Are they afraid we’ll find out friends or family members of Kasich and his associates received lucrative consulting contracts with JobsOhio?
Are they afraid we’ll find out the details of the $150,000 in travel expenses JobsOhio reported last year?
There is no question the Auditor of State has the authority to audit JobsOhio but we’ve got plenty of questions about why Kasich and Batchelder want to keep JobsOhio’s finances secret.
The Auditor needs to be allowed to do his job. Ohioans deserve to know how their money is being spent. Kasich and Batchelder have no right to keep that information secret.