Thursday, January 09, 2014

Citizens Have the Right to Know

* Mother Jones has a very important article about what is going on in Ohio and other states. Gov. John Kasich doesn't come off looking good.

Mother Jones:

...Months after after winning his gubernatorial bid in 2010, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed his very first bill into law, replacing the state's development department with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called JobsOhio that would "move at the speed of business."

Critics slam JobsOhio for a lack of transparency. Although nearly all of its revenue comes from state liquor profits, JobsOhio is exempt from public records laws, its annual disclosures to the Ohio Ethics Commission are confidential, and state ethics laws do not apply to it. When Ohio's state auditor, Republican Dave Yost, tried to audit JobsOhio, GOP state lawmakers passed legislation all but blocking his office from fully scrutinizing its books. (Because JobsOhio launched with state-appropriated money, Yost was allowed a single, limited audit, which raised several red flags.) In its first year, JobsOhio also pocketed nearly $7 million from five private donors, but the Ohio supreme court later ruled the group didn't have to release emails or records detailing the sources of those donations.

JobsOhio has faced charges of political favoritism and pay-to-play. Its board of directors, hand-picked by Kasich, includes multiple donors to Kasich's campaigns and employees of Kasich donors. The Ohio Ethics Commission also found that 9 of the 22 JobsOhio officials required to file financial disclosure statements in 2011 and 2012—including six of its nine board members—had potential financial conflicts such as holding financial stakes in companies that had received incentives from JobsOhio. Matt Englehart, a spokesman for JobsOhio, says the group's conflict of interest policies are "effective," that JobsOhio holds board members and staffers to "a high level of ethical conduct," and that the group is "held to a high level of accountability and reporting to what we do."

Kasich and the Republicans don't want Ohioans to pay attention to the donors with jobs, employees of those donors, lobbyists with daughters/sons employed in Ohio government, or relatives of those donors who have jobs. Ohioans have the right to know how our money is being spent by the Kasich administration.