I’m sorry, I just cannot get over the sheer stupidity of the Kasich Administration and most of the Republicans in the General Assembly over this RobsOhio public audit ban. I mean, first of all, the media has not adequately pointed out that it is the first time in Ohio history the legislature intervened to terminate what was already an ongoing public audit.
But every time I hear the Administration and its supporters justify this, I try to bang my head against the wall until it makes sense. That hasn’t worked, so I’m trying copious amounts of bourbon now. This graf from today’s Columbus Dispatch is a prime example:
Kasich and JobsOhio supporters counter that such scrutiny could chill business relationships with the state and harm other agreements, such as [sic] Ohio State University’s leasing of its parking system.
I’m going to give a pro-tip to both John Kasich and The Ohio State University (because apparently, it’s President is too preoccupied apologizing for saying Catholics “can’t be trusted”) should know, but apparently don’t. If you’re about to hand off a lucrative contract worth, say millions of dollars, but one of the sticking points is that the party receiving the money doesn’t want its use of the funds to be publicly audited… YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAND OVER MONEY TO THAT BUSINESS.
And let’s be clear about what the law was before this amendment. All the law stated is that the State Auditor had the discretionary authority to conduct public audits if the office so desired, it did not require it and plenty of private contracts with State money are never audited. So if the small risk that such a contract might be audited is dissuading certain companies, isn’t that a sign that threat of public auditing is a good deterrence? Apparently not in Kasich’s thinking, he views that as sign as we should get rid of the safeguards.
But here’s the problem with Kasich’s argument, JobsOhio has been in operation for over two years under this “no public transparency rule” that Kasich argued was necessary to encourage businesses to seek JobsOhio’s assistance that they would not do under the more public Ohio Department of Development model. And yet, as we’ve pointed out, JobsOhio has done less projects with fewer jobs than in the last year of the Development model in 2011. In fact, it’s on pace to do substantially less this year, according to the first quarterly report. JobsOhio says it’s because the economy is slowing down, but that’s demonstratively false. In fact, nationally, the economy is picking up steam. So Kasich’s argument would seem to be refuted by JobsOhio’s own data. So perhaps that’s a faulty assumption to justify carving out an organization that already can doled out millions of dollars in secret from public auditing.
What Kasich is basically doing is the equivalent of requiring banks to remove video cameras because “some segments” of society don’t like the idea that anything they do in a bank is being recorded. Yes, some of those people are people like me who are private people who don’t really enjoy knowing everything they do is being watched or recorded on film. But there’s another group of people who don’t like cameras in banks: the people who rob them. Same thing applies to audits. We can’t just ban audits because it makes some people uncomfortable because there are some people who we want to be uncomfortable by that deterrance.
And what the Kasich Administration has refused to explain is why, under their own proposal, if a private audit uncovers wrongdoing by JobsOhio or its recipients of its corporate aid, why in the bloody hell does JobsOhio enjoy the benefit of that being kept from the public, too? Does the public really have no right to know, by independent means, whether JobsOhio is acting appropriately? That’s crazy. No, I’m sorry, in a few moments, that’ll be the law of Ohio.