Big, big, big news today from the Office of the Ohio Inspector General.
The Inspector General’s Office received a complaint in September 2011 that a lottery employee may have been using a state credit card to purchase gasoline for personal use.
Six months later, the Office released this stunning report. A lot of work went into this. The Inspector General’s Office conducted an in-depth review of the fuel capacity and the gas mileage for a Chevy Impala. (Seriously, see pages 4-5 of the Report). The employee’s personal bank accounts were reviewed to try to determine how much he and his wife spent on fuel. (No privacy concerns here, right?) The Office also reviewed the use by the state employee of premium v. regular gasoline. (Seriously (again)).
The conclusion: the Inspector General identified a little less than $1500 in “questioned costs” due the employee fueling his car while not at work, buying more (or sometimes less) gas than would seem necessary given the fuel mileage of a Chevy Impala, buying more gas than the fuel capacity of the Chevy Impala, and purchasing “unleaded ‘super’ or ‘plus’ gasoline against commission policy.
Now, we are not condoning theft by a state employee. If this employee was using a state credit card to purchase gas for his own personal use, he should be prosecuted. No questions.
But . . . Really? This is what the Office of the Inspector General has been doing recently? A six month investigation to find $1500 in questioned costs by a lottery employee?
We are pretty certain of two things: (1) this investigation cost a lot more than $1500; and (2) this investigation probably could have been adequately handled by the lottery commission itself or, if necessary, local law enforcement.
Meanwhile . . . just in the past few weeks we have noted two pretty serious issues of possible wrongdoing in state government that would seem to warrant an investigation by the Inspector General.
On March 23, we noted that complaints had been filed with the Ethics Commission alleging that Kasich and his allies had allegedly used the powers of the Governor’s Office to threaten or intimidate Republican party officials in the race to determine who would serve as GOP State Committee Chair.
On March 7, we noted that inadequate staffing at the Highway Patrol Crime Lab was resulting in the dismissal of criminal cases – and that one of those criminal who were set free had subsequently been charged with murder.
Or hey – maybe he could just finish the Coingate/Tom Noe investigation so we can find out who else was involved?
All of those issues fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the Inspector General. The office was created to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, which according to the ORC includes not only violations of law, but also actions that are inconsistent with “such standards of proper governmental conduct as are commonly accepted in the community and thereby subverts, or tends to subvert, the process of government.”
So . . . we are glad the Inspector General is uncovering waste and theft by state employees. Now, we wish he would turn as much attention to some of the bigger and more far-reaching issues facing Ohio. Those investigations would go a lot further towards restoring faith in government by Ohio’s citizens. Go Get ‘Em, Randy!!!