From the beginning we were part of a large chorus warning Governor Kasich and his venture capitalist pal Mark Kvamme that JobsOhio was not constitutional. Again and again and again and AGAIN the warnings came.
Modern even gave testimony to the House Finance & Appropriation Committee warning them about the constitutional issues.
And now, as we predicted and everyone fully expected, JobsOhio is facing legal challenges over its constitutionality. You can’t say you weren’t warned.
Kasich and Kvamme have already been forced to make some changes to JobsOhio in response to pending lawsuits: The Governor no longer serves as the head of JobsOhio and Kvamme has said JobsOhio will no longer be taking equity stakes in companies. Both changes came after ProgressOhio, Senator Michael Skindell and Representative Dennis Murray filed a constitutional challenge. Other issues remain and will likely be addressed only after a protracted legal battle.
As ProgressOhio gets closer to its day in court, JobsOhio has assembled its legal team, hiring lawyers from two of the most well-known (and expensive) law firms with offices in Columbus: Douglas Cole, a partner with Squire Sanders (and former State Solicitor under Republican Jim Petro) and Aneca Lasley, a partner with Jones Day.
These lawyers are likely billing JobsOhio $500+/hour – meaning the cost of two hours of legal work is about the same as keeping a teacher in the classroom for an entire week. And the money to pay these lawyers is coming directly from the money the state is providing JobsOhio.
Of course, under the current structure, we’ll never know what JobsOhio paid these lawyers – or what it did with the rest of the money it receives from the state – because JobsOhio’s records are secret.
These legal challenges are going to require JobsOhio to pay out tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. That’s state money that was given to Kvamme without any oversight – money that should be going to economic development activities – money that WOULD be going to economic development activities if Kasich and Kvamme had listened to the warnings and not pushed through JobsOhio in its current, unconstitutional form.
Kasich, Kvamme and GOP legislators knew JobsOhio was unconstitutional when they forced it through the General Assembly. They knew it would face – and probably not stand up to a constitutional challenge and they knew it would cost tons of state money to defend.
They knew all this and they did it anyway.