Joseph hit the highlights, but I wanted to write another post that put some more meat on just how galling Kasich’s JobsOhio legislation really is. Remember as you read this that last week Kasich’s legislative allies suggested that this bill was the transparency and ethics guidelines they were able to get Kasich to agree with. So, I’d hate to see what the starting point was during those close-door negotiations.
In short, if you set out to create a privatized economic development entity that ignored the cautionary tales of waste, fraud, abuse, and exaggerated claims of economic benefit, you’d get exactly what was introduced today.
This is going to be a series of posts, but check through the multiple avenues in which Kasich has put forth legislation that would actually incorporate corruption on a scale that would make Tom Noe and Bob Ney blush.
The wholesale removal of JobsOhio as a State agency.
Despite being born from an act of the legislature, encoded into the Ohio Revised Code, containing a mandated role for the the Governor, and appropriation of state taxpayer dollars to give it life, HB 1 specifically writes into Ohio’s statutory law that JobsOhio is not considered a state agency for any purpose. (Sec. 1.60; 102.01(C); 117.01; 121.22; 121.60.)
The first part removes the term “public agency” from the definition of public agency at all, and removes the agency from any oversight or investigation by the Ohio Inspector General’s Office. The second removes it as being considered subject to Ohio’s government ethics code at all. The third removes it from a public agency that can be audited by the State Auditor at all (which would make it the only private entity that accepts state money that cannot be audited, or the only agency (I believe) that the Governor makes appointments to that the Auditor cannot audit by statute. The fourth makes it an entirely private entity not subject to open meetings, including its Audit Committee. Later on the bill, it does give much weaker gift reporting requirement and mandates at least four public meetings a year.
Another provision removes it entirely from Ohio’s statutes on executive branch lobbying. Read that again. The laws that apply to lobbying the executive branch does not apply to lobbying you do of the Governor within JobsOhio. Meaning the Ohio Attorney General has no jurisdiction to investigate any lobbying of Kasich or anyone else within JobsOhio because the statute specifically excludes such authority. People who lobby Kasich within his capacity as head of JobsOhio do not have to register, do not have to report their lobbying expenses to JobsOhio, and does not have to report any financial transaction that the lobbyist is engaged with a member of JobsOhio or its staff. After all, since it’s not a government agency, you aren’t really lobbying, right? Right?