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Conversations with the Candidates: Auditor Dave Yost and John Patrick Carney

Carney, middle right, and Yost, right, debate. Photo: Donn Nottage / City Club of Cleveland
Carney, middle right, and Yost, right, debate. Photo: Donn Nottage / City Club of Cleveland

Republican David Yost and Democrat John Patrick Carney agree on one thing - they're both lawyers, and say the auditor doesn't need to be a certified public accountant. But that's about it.

Here's Yost on JobsOhio, which he said he had the authority to audit before the legislature passed a law that said he didn't:

"I stood up to a governor of my own party and eventually issued a subpoena to force the production of those documents so that I could do my work," he said in an interview with Ohio Public Radio and TV.

But Carney said Yost didn't do a financial audit and just a compliance audit, and that he should fight harder for what Carney says is his constitutional responsibility.

"The problem I think with Mr. Yost is he's consistently said one thing and then done something else," Carney said. "And we need somebody in the office who's going to stand up for the taxpayers, not for political bosses."

On charter schools, Carney said Yost is letting them slide because charter school operators have donated thousands of dollars to his campaign.

"ECOT's director, Bill Lager, had made substantial contributions to Mr. Yost," he said. "White Hat Management, David Brennan's company, had made substantial contributions to Mr. Yost. And unfortunately, it appears that again the taxpayers aren't being well-represented -- that contributors are being well-represented but the taxpayers aren't."

But Yost said he's been more aggressive on charter schools than any auditor in history, and that half of the audits saying the state should be paid back have been against charter schools.

"Over half of the findings for recovery that my office has issued in the last four years have been against charter schools," he said. "Every charter school already gets an audit. So this notion that we're not working on it is just flat-out, not even remotely close to the facts."

And while they agree that changes need to be made in the laws governing the drawing of district lines for lawmakers, they lay the blame for the current maps -- which many critics have called gerrymandered -- at each other's feet. Yost said Democrats, including Carney, could have changed the rules in 2010, but gambled that they would retain control of the House.

"The Democratic caucus, of which my opponent was a part, made the cold, calculated decision that in 2010, they were going to hold on to political power, they were going to run the apportionment board," Yost said. "So they killed reform in the cradle. I think it's a little hypocritical for him to be out now, having found that old-time reform religion."

But Carney said he wasn't in House leadership and had no control, but said Yost could have done more as a member of the board that approved the state legislative map.

"He in fact did have the power to vote 'no' on these very partisan districts, chose not to do that, voted in favor of them, and that's why we have people in office who are encouraged to be partisan instead of bipartisan," Carney said.

Yost said he thinks his stance against Kasich on JobsOhio could help him with voters. Carney said his research shows more than half of voters for Kasich will split their tickets when voting on the downballot races, and he thinks they'll consider him.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.