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Ohio Ethics Commission Won’t Probe Complaint about Kasich and JobsOhio

Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM

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Gov. John Kasich has been under fire for deferred payment he received from a central Ohio company after taking office. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow has the latest on what the state ethics panel thinks about this dispute.

Members of the Ohio Democratic Party allege a conflict of interest connected to the money Gov. John Kasich received from Worthington Industries while in office. Kasich served on the company’s board of directors and chose to receive deferred compensation.

Opponents also claimed a conflict of interest because two Worthington Industries subsidiaries received tax credits from the state in the past two years. The companies received these credits after a recommendation from JobsOhio, the non-profit job development agency created by Kasich.

On Thursday the Ohio Ethics Commission discussed both disputes.

The state panel says there’s no conflict of interest connected to the deferred payment Kasich received from Worthington Industries, because he was getting money for work he had performed for the company before taking office.

The commission says there’s ethics precedent in this matter which goes back to a Gov. Ted Strickland appointee in 2009.

As for the tax credits, the commission found no potential conflict of interest because the Ohio Tax Credit Authority is independent from the governor’s office.

Kasich says the allegations are purely political, and adds that JobsOhio only considers moves that would create jobs—and prior relationships don’t fall into the equation.

“The fact of the matter is, whether it’s a friend or whether it’s a foe, if they’re going to create jobs and the incentives that are necessary to encourage them are within the bounds of reason and reflect a proper return on investment we want to do it,” Kasich said.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the Democrat preparing to challenge Kasich in the 2014 election, alleges cronyism and self-dealing at JobsOhio. He says the issues are unethical and should be illegal.

“The public should have a right to know how their money is being used,” FitzGerald said in an interview with ideastream. “And to say, well, that might inconvenience some company some place along the line, I just don’t buy it. And in any event, you’re setting precedent that I think is very dangerous and leads to a corrupt environment.”

Additional Audio

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald responds.

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Economy, Government/Politics

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