That didn’t take long.
We had always though Stan Heffner got a sweet deal when the Inspector General did not refer his case to the prosecutor, and then later when prosecutor declined to prosecute his case.
Yesterday we received confirmation we were right.
The office of the Inspector General yesterday issued a report citing misconduct by a Department of Administrative Services employee at a state prison. The report concluded that the employee violated prison rules in a number of ways, including by accepting cell phone calls from prisoners, making calls to prisoners while on state time, and sending emails to prisoners.
The report (read the whole thing here) calculated that the employee spent $1893.06 worth of state time sending personal emails and making personal phone calls.
The matter was referred to the Franklin County Prosecutor, presumably to see if theft in office charges will be filed.
Here’s the thing:
Stan Heffner did almost EXACTLY THE SAME THING. The OIG concluded that Heffner using his state issued cell phone and email account, as well as state employees, to pursue his private business interests. We were surprised that Heffner’s case was not initially referred to the prosecutor, and then “shocked” when the Franklin County Prosecutor declined prosecution, despite similar cases being prosecuted on a routine basis throughout Ohio.
There is no difference between Heffner’s case and this case. We will learn more when Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien (a Republican) makes a final decision on prosecution, but right now it looks like the best way to avoid prosecution in Ohio is to be a high ranking official in Republican Administration.
One final note:
We are certainly glad that Thomas Charles is no longer the Inspector General. The new IG, despite some early mis-steps, has removed much of the stink of partisan over-reaching that Charles had brought to that office. But is an investigation into some emails and $1893 worth of state time really worth the expense of a five month investigation? This strikes us as the type of thing that could have been competently handled by the department’s HR staff.
This is not the first time where the resources Meyer devotes to an investigation seems all out of proportion to the alleged offense. We are all for elimination waste and corruption in state government. But Meyer is focusing on small stuff like ODNR employees going deer hunting and the use of a state gas card by a lottery employee. Meanwhile important issues remain uninvestigated, like: Whether, as Pari Sabety suggests, JobsOhio and the Department of Commerce conspired to bring sham litigation before the Ohio Supreme Court; Kasich’s use of 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; Inadequate staffing at the Highway Patrol Crime Lab was resulting in the dismissal of criminal cases; And, and the perennial favorite: Coingate.