On January 31, 2012 the Ohio Inspector General opened an investigation into Rick Hodges, Kasich’s Turnpike Commission Director. The investigation stemmed from a complaint about nepotism and improper hiring practices surrounding the hiring of Hodges’ wife while he was Director of Legislative Development at the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.
According to the complaint, Susan Hodges was hired on October 25th, 2011 as a Work Processing Specialist 2 in an interim capacity to fill the spot of an employee applying for disability leave. A hearing was held at the request of the bargaining unit, and the hearing officer found that no rules were broken because it was a temporary, interim position. The hearing officer did not rule on the nepotism issue.
The Inspector General closed the investigation into the nepotism charges based partially on the hearing officer’s findings (which did not rule on the nepotism charges) and partially on the fact that Rick Hodges left BWC the following month to assume his new role at Director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.
According to state payroll records, Susan Hodges continued her “interim” work at BWC for 19 months, first as a Word Processing Specialist 2 and later as an Administrative Professional 1 – leaving in May 2013. Those same records show she then spent June of this year as a Clerk 1 at the Ohio Cosmetology Board before being hired at the Ohio Lottery Commission in July as an Administrative Professional 4 with over double the salary of her previous position at BWC.
Hodges, a former Republican State Representative, helped Kasich push through his plan to add $1.5 Billion in debt to the Ohio Turnpike so that the governor could use the one-time money to fund transportation projects.
Despite opening the investigation in January of 2012, Inspector General Randy Meyer’s office did not release the results of the investigation until March 7th, 2013, a week after the Ohio House of Representatives passed Kasich’s transportation budget containing the new turnpike/transportation funding scheme.
Meyer, a Republican who worked for Mary Taylor in the Auditor’s office, was appointed by Kasich to replace former IG Tom Charles.
According to records obtained by Plunderbund, Meyer’s office has closed 76 investigations this year, though only a handful of the investigation reports actually appear on the IG’s website.
The long awaited Coin Gate report, which many believe will implicate other Republicans in the scandal that sent Tom Noe to jail for 18 years, has still not been released even though Meyers promised to make the report public over 17 months ago.
Under Ohio Law, illegally hiring your family members is a forth degree felony punishable by 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.