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Published: Tuesday, 8/13/2013

State Rep. Ashford says JobsOhio is 'mired in scandal'


Two local elected Democrats joined the Ohio Democratic Party in calling for an investigation of JobsOhio, the private, nonprofit development agency established by Republican Gov. John Kasich, in the wake of conflict of interest allegations.

The Dayton Daily News recently reported that six of the nine members of the organization's board have personal financial stakes in companies that have received tax credits and public funding.

The agency said they occurred before the JobsOhio board began operating in July 2011, but the Ohio Democratic Party provided documents it says shows that most of the incentives were awarded after the board began operating.

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) and Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, speaking at the Lucas County Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Toledo, attacked the privately run development board as providing financial benefits to the board's own members and even to the governor himself.

"JobsOhio is mired in scandal and it isn't working," Mr. Ashford said. Mr. Kapszukiewicz said, "Governor Kasich and the board [of JobsOhio] need to come clean and immediately disclose any other conflicts of interest they have."

Democrats make no bones that they are out to defeat Governor Kasich in 2014.

The likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, has filed a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Governor Kasich, said Ohio has created 160,000 private-sector jobs under JobsOhio in contrast to 400,000 jobs lost under the previous Democratic governor.

"They have to try to smear JobsOhio because as JobsOhio continues to put points on the board it reminds Ohioans what galactic failures Democrats were when they were in charge," Mr. Nichols said.

The Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly recently passed a measure prohibiting Republican State Auditor Dave Yost from auditing JobsOhio. The entity leased state liquor stores and uses the profits to spur economic development deals.

Mr. FitzGerald contends that JobsOhio was not following its own ethics policy governing conflicts of interest, and said the only way to ensure future accountability is by increasing transparency through regular public audits.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.

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