In 2010, former State Representative/GOP Cuyahoga County Chair Jim Trakas served as the co-chairman of Gov. John Kasich’s gubernatorial Cuyahoga County campaign. When Kasich was narrowly elected by only a plurality of the vote, he “has said he will not base hiriing [sic] on politics, but rather on qualifications.” But as the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out at the time, Kasich’s decision to appoint Trakas to be the director of the State Board of Cosmetology showed how quickly Kasich would violate his pledge.
Trakas had no private sector or really any legislative experience with cosmetology (well, beyond the fact that I’m sure he’s had his hair professionally cut). In fact, Trakas didn’t even apply for the job:
He didn’t apply for the gig at the cosmetology board, which regulates the beauty industry in Ohio. He applied for the director or deputy director position at the Ohio Lottery and for executive director at the Ohio Turnpike Commission, according to the database of applicants’ resumes released Thursday by the Kasich administration.
Now keep in mind we only learned this after the new Kasich Administration was publicly shamed into releasing its database of resumes sent to his transition committee after trying to argue that it was not a public record because Kasich used a “private” corporation to undertake his transition activities.
Kasich solicited resumes through his inaugural website and promised to keep the applications private even as media and other members of the public questioned why the information would not be treated as a public record just like any other resume for a state position.
The governor eventually relented on the advice of his counsel and promised that after he took office the information would be released.
Yesterday, the Inspector General’s Office issued a report finding that Trakas, as Director of a State agency, improperly told a business he could make a fine being pursued by the agency “go away,” if the business did what he indicated he wanted and not terminate an independent stylist who worked at a salon in Grove City.
Shortly after the report was issued, Trakas announced his resignation. A little over halfway through his first term, Kasich now has his third high profile resignation due to an appointee’s improper actions. Kasich’s first choice to serve as Superintendent of Public Instruction resigned after an Inspector General report confirmed the very conflict of ethics we had alleged when he testified in favor of legislation mandating testing from a company he was actively seeking employment, a fact he failed to disclose to legislators at the time. Heffner escaped possible criminal prosecution when Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, a Republican, declined to pursue a criminal case.
Last November, we reported how Kasich’s former head of the Ohio Department of Development was serving as one of Kasich’s key economic development advisors while selling access to clients to acquire an economic stake in those businesses if they obtained economic assistance from the State. Leftwich, who had been appointed to the Ohio Third Frontier Advisor Board (one of those “independent” bodies Kasich now claims resolves any conflict of interest his JobsOhio board has on projects it does that benefits board member’s companies) specifically steered his client to seek assistance from the very Commission he sat on. The Kasich Administration was forced to terminate Leftwich’s contract and he resigned from the Third Frontier Advisory Board.
Yet even after Leftwich resigned, the Kasich Administration refused to divulge exactly what its cancelled contract with Leftwich called on him to do to justify his six-figure salary, declaring the contract itself a “trade secret.”
Keep this in mind as Gov. Kasich continues to justifies the absolutely secrecy and lack of public accountability in JobsOhio. These are the stories that we only learned about due to public records. As the Republicans in the General Assembly make more and more of government exempt from public meetings and public records, keep in mind its not just transparency at issue. It’s our only disinfectant, our only deterrence to government corruption.
But for the media (and our) persistence to force the Kasich Administration to operate in the sunlight, the public would never have learned why a former major campaign backer of Gov. Kasich in 2010 was forced to resign… from a job he wasn’t qualified for, nor wanted in the first place.