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Top Columbus Zoo Officials Resign; Ohio Ethics Commission May Investigate


The top two officials at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have resigned following a  Columbus Dispatch investigationabout the improper use of zoo resources.

A statement from the zoo said CEO Tom Stalf and CFO Greg Bell stepped down immediately after the zoo’s board received the results of an investigation from an outside law firm.

The Dispatch reported Stalf and Bell let relatives live in houses owned by the zoo and got family members tickets for entertainment events.

Former zoo executive director Jerry Borin will serve as interim CEO as the zoo starts a national search for a new CEO.

The Ohio Ethics Commission is reviewing whether it has the authority to launch a state-level investigation into Columbus Zoo officials, according to executive director Paul Nick. The ethics commission only has jurisdiction to investigate public officials.

Columbus Zoo is a nonprofit organization, but it receives taxpayer money.

The Ohio Ethics Commission is working with the zoo to determine how the entity was formed and whether employees are a part of OPERS, the largest public pension fund in Ohio. Such details will help the ethics commission determine whether the zoo can be legally considered a public entity.

Nick said the commission hopes to have answers by its next meeting on April 30.

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