Ohio Secretary of State gets requests for records on his plans to relocate his office
Three people have filed public records requests for information about Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s decision to move his office to a building that houses the law firm that filed paperwork for his U.S. Senate campaign.
The Ohio Democratic Party brought together the three who are concerned about the move of the secretary of state's office from its 4th Street location, where it's been for nearly 20 years. LaRose has said relocating the office to a building a few blocks away will save taxpayer dollars — though there will be a $600,000 upfront cost to ready the new space and move into it.
“I think Mr. LaRose is not being forthright about the intentions of the move, the timing of the move, let alone the exposures of the integrity of his office, coincidentally being the same building of his U.S. Senate office, and how that's a conflict of interest as well as an unethical move at the time," said Armando Telles, a Columbus strategist and activist who is one of those who filed the public records requests.
"LaRose claims that the move will pay for itself. But in reality, taxpayers like me will be paying off LaRose's latest scandal until 2077, when I'm going to be 75 years old," said Katie Seewer, an Ohio State University student who also filed a public records request.
A few weeks ago, LaRose said the move would save the state around $11,000 in rent per year.
LaRose's office said in a statement he had been looking into relocation efforts since taking office in 2019, and renewed them in 2021 because of downsizing related to remote work during COVID. The statement said there was a focus on finding secure parking for employees walking to their cars before sunrise or after dark. Several buildings were considered, according to the statement, with the first visit to the new site in June 2022. The Secretary of State's office went to the Controlling Board to request funding for the move in January 2023 and then again in June 2023.
The statement concludes: "Finally, NO TAX DOLLARS will be spent to finance the relocation move. The one-time cost associated with the move will be covered with revenue received by our office through business fling fees. The Civic Center drive location offers an overall reduction in our lease and will cut the overall operation costs of the office and we will be SAVING THE TAX PAYERS $56,000 annually. This office move is not done as a political gain for the Secretary. It is to overall save tax payers money and bring better security and parking for his staff."