The Ohio Inspector General’s Office, under the direction of IG Randy Meyer, must be pretty busy these days. The Office exists to “investigate alleged wrongful acts or omissions committed by state officers or employees, as well as those doing or seeking to do business with the State of Ohio.” And as casual or recent readers of Plunderbund should be fully aware, that there are is a lot of ethically funky stuff going on within Ohio state government worth investigating.
In May, we reported that the interim Schools Superintendent, Stan W. Heffner, used his official position to represent himself as an expert and provided testimony to the Senate Finance Committee and specifically recommend that the committee adopt a provision that would direct 2.2 million dollars annually to Educational Testing Service, the company that announced Heffner’s hiring just three weeks earlier.
In May, we told you that the efforts of Kasich and his and his allies to take over the Ohio Republican Party had led to an FBI investigation.
Also in May, we reported that the Ohio Emergency Management Agency was forced to repay $2.9 million from Ohio’s General Fund to the Federal Department of Homeland Security for misspent homeland security grant money.
Earlier this month, we called for an investigation after noting that that certain charter schools that receive state funding have very questionable enrollment figures.
Also earlier this month, we reported that the Ohio Department of Corrections had fired two members of the Ohio Parole Board solely because of political affiliation.
Just last week, we calculated that the Kasich Administration was paying a private consultant $3200/hour for a report on the proposed privatization of the Ohio Turnpike that appears to be almost three weeks late.
MEANWHILE, The Ohio Inspector General’s Office just announced that it had completed a five month long investigation into . . . allegations that employees of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were hunting deer while on duty. Seriously. You can read the ten page report here. And if you are really into this sort of thing (and we know you are), you can review the seventeen pages of full color exhibits here.
We aren’t saying that Wildlife Officers should be doing this sort of thing. ODNR should certainly take all appropriate action against these folks.
We are saying that spending a whole lot of Inspector General Office staff time and resources on this sort of case is not the best use of the Office’s resources. Not when a whole lot of really important stuff is going on.
This isn’t the first time we have raised this issue.
Back in March, after the Inspector General released a detailed report about a lottery employee using a state gas card to purchase about $1500 worth of gas for his personal use, we noted that the Inspector General was pursuing issues that could be adequately handled by the department human resource offices or, if necessary, local law enforcement.
At that time, we suggested that the office look into the allegations 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, or the allegations 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. We also suggested that “maybe he could just finish the Coingate/Tom Noe investigation so we can find out who else was involved?”
The Coingate/Tom Noe investigation was started 7 years ago under then-IG Tom Charles but results were never released. Earlier this year IG Meyer said he wouldn’t be releasing the results either, but intense blow back to his announcement found him reversing his position. However he STILL hasn’t released any information about what is likely the biggest political scandal in Ohio in the last decade.
The evidence is becoming clear: The Inspector General – who, don’t forget, was appointed by John Kasich – is occupying himself with unimportant matters and neglecting the real allegations of wrongdoing in Ohio government. We hope that the Inspector General remembers the story of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned.