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Published: Friday, 11/7/2008

Strickland suspends state Cabinet official

Helen Jones-Kelly is on paid administrative for her alleged role in using a state computer to engage in fund-raising. Helen Jones-Kelly is on paid administrative for her alleged role in using a state computer to engage in fund-raising.

COLUMBUS Gov. Ted Strickland late Friday placed Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelly on paid administrative leave for allegedly using a state computer or e-mail account to engage in political fund-raising.

I have asked Inspector General Tom Charles to include this matter in his current, ongoing investigation, said Mr. Strickland. Also, I have asked Cabinet Secretary Jan Allen to serve as acting director of the agency.

Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said the governor learned of the latest problem Friday.

Mr. Charles was already looking into reports that ODJFS, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and other government offices may have used state computers to examine the records of Samuel Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher of Springfield Township after he became a high-profile critic of Barack Obama s tax policies.

A number of state officials had called for the governor to act in the wake of Ms. Kelly s admission that she had ordered a review of state records after Mr. Wurzelbacher became a national celebrity.

She presented the search as routine in situations where someone appears to have come into money, but a number of Republican officials characterized it as political witch hunt after Joe the Plumber became a factor in John McCain s failed presidential campaign.

Ms. Jones-Kelly has never revealed whether her search turned up anything.

State Auditor Mary Taylor, a Republican, has said she will expand her routine government audits to include a review of policies governing the storage and use of personal information.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496

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