In June, 2014, Lt. Governor Mary Taylor’s Chief of Staff and her assistant were forced to resign after a public record request from Plunderbund revealed both staffers were likely billing the state for hours that they were not actually in the office working. A tip received by Plunderbund suggested the women were working on the Kasich/Taylor reelection campaign while being paid by the LG’s office.
Mary Taylor, not exactly a workaholic herself, vowed to get to the bottom of the issue. In a memo to the Ohio Inspector General and the Ohio Highway Patrol, she asked both offices to pursue an investigation into possible illegal activities. “In the interest of transparency and full accountability for an expenditure of public funds, I am requesting that an independent review of Ms. Johnson’s and Ms. Brandt’s hours be performed.”
We recently checked in with both the Ohio IG’s office and the Ohio Highway Patrol to see how those investigations were coming along. Neither appears to have completed, or maybe even started, an investigation.
“We have searched our records in response to your public records request for all incident reports and any other investigative records related to former state employees Laura Johnson and Heather Brandt,” wrote lawyers for the Ohio Highway Patrol/Dept. of Public Safety. “Please be advised that we did not find any records responsive to your request.”
“A Report of Investigation has not been issued by this office involving those named individuals,” said the Ohio Inspector General’s Offfice, citing an exception to Ohio Law that would prevent them from releasing records about ongoing investigations. “Because any responsive documents are covered by this exception, I have no documents which are responsive to your request to provide.”
Taylor’s staffers were fired after an investigation by Plunderbund into swipe card data for state office buildings and garages revealed serious irregularities. It’s worth noting that the same data requested for Ms. Taylor also revealed irregularities.
Johnson and Brandt’s records showed that “the total amount of hours that their respective cars were recorded as being in the Riffe Center parking garage during the specified four-month persion was significantly less than the total amount of hours that each of them recorded as having worked in that time period.”
Conversely, Taylor’s building access card data shows she was on state property only four days during a six month period in 2014 while her garage access card shows that her vehicle and driver parked statehouse garages almost 50 times during the same time period.
Johnson and Brandt, who cited a “hostile work environment” as her reason for leaving the LG’s office, were not the only Taylor employees to leave. Six of Taylor’s original eleven staffers – over 55% – have left the office over the past few years.
Speaking of former Taylor staffers… Randy Meyer, Ohio’s Inspector General charged with investigating Taylor’s fired staff, and possibly Taylor herself, used to work for Mary Taylor in the Ohio Auditor’s Office prior to being appointed to his current position by Governor Kasich.
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