Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:17 PM
Recent controversy involving Gov. John Kasich’s deferred compensation payments from a company that has received money through JobsOhio has prompted some Democratic state lawmakers to propose a new bill. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.
JobsOhio, the state’s private job creation company, recently gave Worthington Industries incentives worth more than half a million dollars.
But questions were raised when reports surfaced that Gov. John Kasich was taking deferred compensation payments from that company while he was in office. Kasich used to sit on the company’s board, and the payments were reportedly arranged before he took office.
The governor says the company deserved the money it got from the state, but it raises eyebrows with some groups that say they want more transparency in JobsOhio. And it is prompting some Democratic state lawmakers to bring forward a bill that would say governors could not accept money from a private company while in office.
Democratic State Rep. Nicholas Celebreeze says it makes sense.
“This legislation is designed to protect the constituencies and the citizens of Ohio from making sure that it’s not pay-to-play politics,” Celebreeze said. “This, if anything, protects government, it protects our officeholders and it protects our elected officials.
Celebreeze says house and senate members routinely recuse themselves from dealing with legislation that could cause a conflict of interest, but it’s not possible for the governor to do that.
State Rep. Ron Gerberry says majority Republicans should be willing to pass this legislation, regardless of the political affiliation of the governor.
“If Gov. Strickland had been receiving compensation in the middle of an organization which we took outside of inside government and put it into a private C1 corporation, and if the shoes were reversed here, I could assure you this type of legislation would be introduced,” Gerberry said.
But Republicans don’t appear quick to embrace this legislation. Matt Borges is the head of the Ohio Republican Party.
“I think it’s a Democratic smokescreen,” Borges said. “They are trying to create an issue where one doesn’t exist. And at this point and time, we don’t have any further thoughts or comments on it.”
The Ohio Ethics Commission recently rejected a complaint by likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald that Kasich’s payments from Worthington Industries represent a conflict of interest.
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