Throughout the time that the various JobsOhio cases have been pending, I have tried to stay focused on the legal issues and avoided making disparaging comments on the various office holders involved in this monstrosity. I focused on the legal issues, primarily standing.
This month the Ohio Supreme Court once again prevented the case from being determined on the merits. This time it found that the constitutionality issue could not be brought by a declaratory judgment under the public rights standing doctrine. They stated that a declaratory judgment action is not the proper way to bring the case and that it was not an important enough issue to fall under the doctrine. It was a five to two decision with O’Neil and Pfeifer expressing great dismay that the merits would not be heard.
The Supreme Court found that for the case to be brought, it had to be in the form of a writ, by someone who has standing. There is a very specific writ that can be used to challenge the validity of corporation, called quo warranto. The problem with using quo warranto in this case, is that the person that is supposed to initiate the action is….the attorney general. At any point that the attorney general determines there is reasonable cause to bring a corporation before the Court because its validity is in question, he has standing to file the writ. The determination of reasonable cause that a corporation is invalid is sufficient to give the attorney general standing to sue.
Dewine has had three years to file a proceeding in quo warranto and he has failed to do so. He has done everything possible to prevent the merits from ever being heard. There is simply no doubt that good cause exists to litigate JobsOhio’s legality. Article XIII of the Ohio Constitution says that the General Assembly cannot create a corporation or create special rules for one corporation that do not apply to all of them. The JobsOhio Act not only creates a corporation, but creates special rules that apply just to it. It is the attorney general’s jobs to rein in illegal corporate activity in the state and he has utterly and completely violated the public trust by failing to file the quo warranto against JobsOhio.
Not only has Dewine failed to fulfill his obligations to the citizens of this state by failing to bring the quo warranto, he prevented the case from being heard when private citizens, notably this writer, stepped in to do his job. He blocked determination of JobsOhio’s unconstitutionality by raising the issue of standing to sue. Standing was only an issue because Dewine made it one. That can be waived by simply not mentioning it. Instead, he had fought that issue tooth and nail to protect JobsOhio and the interests of his corporate overlords.
Article XIII is part of the Ohio Constitution because in the 1830-1840 the state charted lots of small private corporations in the name of economic development which resulted in massive financial loses for the state due to poor management of these corporations. In many cases there was outright fraud due to the collusion between the government sponsored private corporations and elected officials. I do not think corruption is too strong a word to apply to Dewine’s misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance with regard to JobsOhio.
The statute governing quo warranto allows the Supreme Court to direct the attorney general to file an action on quo warranto. It also allows them to appoint a private attorney to proceed in the event the attorney general so mired in conflict that he cannot be trusted to handle this issue. On June 20, 2014 I filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court to order Dewine fulfill his obligation to the state of Ohio and file the quo warranto. I also asked them to appoint a private attorney to proceed if he fails to do so. Now, it is up to the Supreme Court to finally make sure Dewine does his job—or if someone more suitable will at last be allowed to do it for him.