I accept the findings of the Inspector General’s report. I was wrong and I’m sorry for my lack of judgment,” said Stan Heffner on August 2, 2012, the day the Inspector General released a detailed, 14-page report exposing Heffner’s “lack of judgment”, or as we call it in the real world — breaking the law.  Heffner did not mean that he would be more than willing accept the appropriate punishment for his misdeeds.

Inspector General Randy Meyer made it perfectly clear that Stan Heffner unequivocally ignored the law as he testified before the Senate Finance Committee (Heffner feigns ignorance; would that be better?) and repeatedly misused state resources (i.e., his secretary) as he sought to leave Ohio for a private sector position.

Today, prosecutors in central Ohio informed the Inspector General that no charges would be forthcomingdespite our belief that Mr. Heffner acted inappropriately in both instances.”  We can only surmise that prosecutors never read the Inspector General’s report since it contains language that contradicts this announcement:

Based on the prior relationship between ODE and ETS, it was inappropriate for Heffner to give testimony in support of this bill given the strong likelihood that ETS could stand to profit.

By providing testimony to the legislature as the state’s principal employee for leadership in education, in support of a bill that could and ultimately did benefit a corporation with which he had entered into an agreement of employment, Heffner failed to meet the standards of proper governmental conduct as are commonly accepted in the community and subverts the process of government.

Accordingly, the Office of the Ohio Inspector General finds reasonable cause to believe wrongful acts or omissions occurred in these instances.  [Defined in Ohio Revised Code 121.41]

That was just about one single sentence of his testimony.  The IG had this to say about Heffner’s chauvinist misuse of state funds for personal business:

The investigation by the Office of the Ohio Inspector General discovered numerous occasions in which Heffner encouraged and directed his private business associates to communicate with him via his state-of-Ohio issued cell phone and his state-of-Ohio email account.  Heffner directed state of Ohio employees to work, while being paid by the state of Ohio, on business matters that were outside the interest of the ODE and purely for the private business interests of Heffner.

Accordingly, the Office of the Ohio Inspector General finds reasonable cause to believe wrongful acts or omissions occurred in these instances.  [Defined in Ohio Revised Code 121.41]

Yet when the decision was left in the hands of another state office who was not involved in the investigation and who ultimately received no recommendation from the Inspector General, Stan Heffner was let completely off the hook.  He simply walked away from his post with full retirement and benefits.  In fact, the State Board of Education hasn’t even suspended his Ohio educators’ licenses nor publicly condemned his behavior.

So while we often think of Ohio’s ethics laws as ensuring appropriate and legal behavior for state officials, the case of Stan Heffner reveals that those laws are merely suggestions that no one is required to follow.

What were Heffner’s thoughts on the announcement that he faces absolutely no punishment for his law-breaking actions?

“I never committed a crime and I’m just glad the prosecutors agree with that position. I never intended to hurt anybody. I never intended to profit from anything,” Heffner said.

Ahh, the I never intended to defense.

We’re glad to know that it’s acceptable again.