State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) is questioning the extent of public corruption at Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Department of Administrative Services (DAS) after a state inspector general’s report showed what appears to be an emerging pattern of public corruption at the highest levels of the state agency.

“Reports of top administration officials abusing authority and engaging in pay to play schemes using taxpayer money raises serious concerns over what exactly is going on in Columbus,” said Cera in a release last week. “This emerging pattern of behavior is troubling and Ohio taxpayers need answers, and more importantly, accountability.”

Cera, a State Controlling Board member tasked with oversight of state spending, sought additional information from Inspector General Meyer in June of this year, after news reports showed DAS was steering hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid, taxpayer-funded state contracts to a few select IT firms for consulting services, the release said.

At the time, Cera asked Meyer to provide information on investigations into the agency for alleged wrongdoing, as the state’s spending oversight panel considered a blanket request from the agency to continue handing out state cash for IT service contracts with no additional state oversight, it said.

“After reading the Inspector General’s report, I think we need to look long and hard at the lack of oversight that led to these corrupt deals with political insiders,” Cera added. “It’s our duty as legislators to ask these questions and get answers to make sure this never happens again. We still need to fully understand what made Governor Kasich kill safeguards against this type of behavior in the state budget.”

After the GOP-controlled oversight panel approved the Administration’s blanket, no-bid request, Cera, also the lead Democrat on the House’s state budget committee, supported an amendment to the state budget to force additional oversight on hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid handouts at DAS, the release noted. The amendment passed both the House and Senate before Gov. John Kasich vetoed the added taxpayer safeguard in the final budget version, it said.

Relatedly, Cera offered a state budget amendment to hold public officials accountable by establishing misdemeanor criminal penalties for officials who purposely evade state contracting laws. The amendment was defeated by statehouse Republicans.