Sometimes, the headlines write themselves.
Yesterday, the Chair of the Ohio Ethics Commission, Ben Rose, testified before the Senate Finance Committee regarding RobsOhio. State Representative Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) had asked the Ohio Ethics Commission to review the RobsOhio legislation and to give their input. This act, on top of his fight in the committees and the floor of the House to make RobsOhio more transparent and accountable along with his Taxpayers Right to Know Act has made him Plunderbund’s newest BFF.
Attached below is a copy of the letter from the Ohio Ethics Commission’s Chief Advisory Attorney giving her legal opinion as to how the RobsOhio bill radically departs to common transparency and ethical safeguards found in Ohio law.
Among some of the Ohio Ethics Commission’s observations:
- The statute is “unclear” whether RobsOhio executives, directors, and employees can be prosecuted under State law for bribery. (I disagree with this analysis. I believe the bill makes it absolutely clear that they cannot be prosecuted for bribery under State law.)
- JobsOhio officials & employees are not subject to Ohio’s revolving door, confidentiality, representation and conflict of interests ethics policies.
- Allow all but the Governor to accept, without any disclosure, the providing of free travel and entertainment from third-parties, including those seeking to curry favor with RobsOhio.
- And it just goes on to list almost exactly every criticism I’ve made as to ethics and transparency I’ve made here that haven’t already been mentioned.
Seriously, there were moments even I thought I wrote this letter.
So, anyways, Chairman Rose testifies to the Senate Finance Committee and tells them that the bill has the ethics policy starts from just about the worst possible starting point. According to GONGWER:
Rather than exempt JobsOhio board members and employees from the law and add certain ethics provisions, as the current version does, policymakers should apply all of the prohibitions and requirements and carve-out narrow exceptions if they are justified by compelling public policy reasons, Mr. Rose said. “We would suggest that that is the better thing to do."
Rose also asked that the bill be amended to specifically give the Ethics Commission explicit jurisdiction over RobsOhio and given it the ability to issue advisory opinions to RobsOhio in order to assist them with dealing with their ethical situations in a more proactive way.
It should, of course, fix all those other things I mentioned before, Rose testified, too.
Again, according to Gongwer, the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s reaction was to say that the Committee was “caught off guard” by such testimony, and then proceeded to question why the Ohio Ethics Commission made the decision to weigh in on this legislation in the first place.
Seriously, that was the reaction. Chairman Weidner apparently told the press afterwards that he feels it’s completely adequate to just allow RobsOhio to regulate and police itself like an other private non-profit, but he’d take the Commissions suggestions to the Administration.
I’ve got one question for the Ohio General Assembly: What do they think Governor Kasich is going to do if they pass a RobsOhio bill with transparency and ethical safeguards that the Governor hasn’t approved ahead of time? Are they afraid he might veto it?