COLUMBUS — The state inspector general’s office Wednesday found reasonable cause that Toledo’s Dr. Lance Talmage had engaged in a “wrongful act or omission” for billing the Ohio State Medical Board for time when he was also receiving a stipend as an officer with a national professional organization.
The report noted that Dr. Talmage, an obstetrician/gynecologist who recently left the board after 15 years, had already entered into a settlement with the Ohio Ethics Commission and reimbursed the state board $4,895.
Inspector General Randall Meyer’s office recommended the state board review his conduct and decide whether administrative action is warranted. It also urged the board to develop policies spelling out when per-diem payments are and are not appropriate.
During the investigation, Dr. Talmage confirmed that he submitted requests for per-diem payments from the state board for 27 days when he was also working as chairman-elect and immediate past chairman of the Federation of State Medical Boards for which he received a separate stipend of $32,000 a year.
He told investigators that the board’s executive director at the time had told him the double billings were legitimate because Dr. Talmage was bringing information back to the state board.
“Talmage reported that when he began serving as chair of the FSMB, he no longer submitted per diem requests to the State Medical Board of Ohio, because as chair of the FSMB, Talmage ‘felt that I represent fully the federation at that point at those meetings’,” the report reads. He received a stipend of $64,000 a year while active chairman.
The report noted that Dr. Talmage acknowledged no wrongdoing.
Reached Wednesday, Dr. Talmage also stressed that his settlement with the ethics commission did not include an admission of guilt.
“I paid the money,” he said. “The board, in fact, had approved this and had full knowledge. My attitude was that the commission’s stand really discourages Ohioans from taking national offices. I was not very happy about it, but going to court was ridiculous, so I went ahead and paid it ... It was a conflict in the rules.”
Dr. Talmage was first appointed in 1999 and reappointed in 2004 and 2009 by two governors. Gov. John Kasich chose not to reappoint him when his third term expired earlier this year.
The inspector general found no wrongdoing in connection with an allegation made against the board’s former executive director, Richard Whitehouse. Both it and the ethics commission found that Mr. Whitehouse’s travel expense reimbursements while serving as an unpaid member of the national organization’s board did not represent a conflict of interest.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.