On the very first day of his term as Governor Ted Strickland issued a thorough new set of ethics requirements. As always is the case with Ted, he stepped up and put the toughest and most stringent requirements on himself and his staff. And he was very clear why he was doing it:
The job of the officials and employees of the State of Ohio is to serve the people of Ohio. When those who want contracts or grants or other benefits from the State give gifts or meals or tickets or trips to state officials or employees, the people of Ohio have every right to be suspicious that official government decisions aren’t being made based on the merits.
In a serious and focussed attempt to limit the influence of private money on state decision making Strickland’s ethics rules forbid anyone on the Governor’s staff or in his cabinet, anyone employed at one of those cabinet agencies or employed by a board or commission from receiving any gift from a lobbyist or anyone who has contracts with the state or anyone who recieved grants from the state.
In addition, no close family members could recieve these gifts either. The only exception was an inexpensive “token gift such as a t-shirt of mug” valued at less than $20.
He also required that any Cabinet agency or board or commission that awards a contract without going through a competative bid process must provide the reason the contract was awarded without a bid and it must make this document available to the public. It was part of a concerted effort on Governor Strickland’s part to increase the public’s access to their government’s decision making process.
This executive order expired when Kasich took over in early January and no official policy from the Governor’s office was in effect for the past few weeks. Kasich finally released an executive order of his own this past week. Unfortunately it contains none of the restrictions established by his predecessor and, as a matter of fact, contains no new restrictions or requirements at all.
The two page, six sections of John Kasich’s ethics EO basically say one thing: Everyone should follow existing ethics laws and if they see anything suspicious they should tell the Ethics Commission or the Inspector General.
Here are the two ethics orders. Compare for yourself.
Governor Strickland’s Executive Order on Ethics
Governor Kasich’s Executive Order on Ethics