Sometimes, the headlines write themselves.

Matt LundyYesterday, 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. 

Senator Chris WidenerSeriously, 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?

Ohio Ethics Commission Memorandum on JobsOhio

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  • Anonymous

    I think what Widener meant was: we booted Strickland’s ethics commission picks for a reason, and that was so Kasich could appoint a compliant majority on the commission. so why the hell are you still the Chair, and why is that lawyer lady still employed there?

    Don’t worry, I’m sure that’ll all be fixed soon. Assuming, that is, that Kasich’s picks are actually eligible, but who’s going to question that – the Senate? ha!

  • Delco

    I find this a powerful statement coming from Ben Rose, a Republican who has been around the Statehouse and state agencies for thirty-plus years. I know Ben to be true conservative, but a man of reason. From the Ethics Commission website: “Ben Rose of Lima, Ohio was elected Chair of the Ethics Commission in January 2009 and has served on the Commission since 2006. Mr. Rose represented Allen County in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1973 through 1986 and served as Assistant House Minority Leader from 1981 through 1986. Mr. Rose currently maintains a private law practice in Lima. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University and a J.D. from The Ohio State University. Mr. Rose is a former Navy officer and also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment. During the Voinovich Administration he served as Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Health and then as Executive Secretary of the Ohio Industrial Commission. He remains an active community volunteer in Lima.” He is no slouch.

  • Anonymous

    No. And the legal opinion is dead on. It’s what I independently concluded, and it’s what the Legislative Service Commission independent concluded (although LSC somehow glossed over the whole “exempt from bribery” prosecution stuff.)

  • Anonymous

    I was kind of holding out hope that someone on the committee would propose an amendment to make the JobsOhio Board members subject to Senate approval. Guess that never happened. Hadn’t really seen any reporting on amendments this go around.

  • Victoria_ullmann

    In the questioning, I think Rose said that if they did exempt them from the operation of the Ohio bribery statute, it would just be a concession of jurisdiction to the federal government to prosecute for it which I thought was one of the most interesting things that happened that day. I wonder it they will let me testify next week… I have a few amendments of my own. Since Kasich does not care at all about Ohio workers, and is in my opinion actually creating ROBSOHIO to be a PAC to raise money for his campaign, he might veto it.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t checked the USC, but the only way I think the federal government could prosecute a bribery case is if they could show federal money was steered in return for the bribe.

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