The Ohio Republican Party claimed in an email last weekend that Auditor Dave Yost “has never let politics creep into his office,” of course neglecting to mention Yost’s utter failure to crack down on the Electronic Classroom Of Tomorrow. In recent years, ECOT has bilked Ohio taxpayers out of $80 million while executives and affiliated companies donated thousands to Yost.
“After an ECOT whistleblower claimed wrongdoing, Yost’s office concluded that everything was OK. We now know that ECOT’s attendance books were cooked in 2015 and 2016, and that Yost has received at least $29,000 in donations from ECOT executives over the years,” said Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper. “If this wasn’t yet another case of powerful special interests buying lax oversight, then the Ohio Republican Party is admitting that Dave Yost has been, at least, grossly incompetent.”
In the fall of 2014, Yost’s office began an ECOT investigation after an employee sent a demand letter claiming the e-charter school was engaged in cooking its attendance books. Just over a month later, Yost’s 2014 campaign transition team received $7,500 in donations from ECOT-related entities and people. Over the years, Yost has received campaign donations from companies and people affiliated with ECOT totaling at least $29,000. By the end of January 2015, Yost closed the special investigation into ECOT. He later gave ECOT an award for “excellent record keeping.”
The Ohio Department of Education has now determined the e-charter improperly took as much as $80 million from Ohio taxpayers after inflating student enrollment numbers in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. This past September, Pepper called for an independent audit of ECOT’s books going back to before Yost’s office dropped the ball in 2014.
“Dave Yost took money from ECOT executives for his transition fund in the middle of his office’s investigation. He’s spoken three times at ECOT’s graduation ceremonies. He’s given ECOT awards for record-keeping, of all things,” Pepper said. “If this hasn’t been Dave Yost letting politics creep into his office, then he’s just terrible at his job. Ohio deserves better.”