Two local elected Democrats added their voices Tuesday to complaints by the Ohio Democratic Party and its likely gubernatorial candidate about JobsOhio, the private, nonprofit development agency established by Republican Gov. John Kasich.
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State Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) and Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz cited a recent report in the Dayton Daily News 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 two spoke at Lucas County Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Toledo. They said the development agency provides 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.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said Ohio is 47th in the nation in job creation under Mr. Kasich. The statistic comes from a study of job creation during the previous year that was published by Pew Charitable Trust in June.
JobsOhio said the incentives occurred before the agency 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.
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. However, the law creating JobsOhio placed it outside the investigatory oversight of the ethics commission.
The ethics commission is expected to meet Thursday and may decide whether it can address any part of the complaint.
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.