Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016
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Redfern seeks ethics probe of lobbyist

COLUMBUS - A Toledo area legislator has asked the state inspector general and Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate the release of $250,000 in state funds to a Cincinnati group that tried to land the 2012 summer Olympics.

State Rep. Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) said Joe Robertson, as acting director of the state Department of Development, approved the release of $250,000 of $500,000 set aside for the project before he left the state to work for KMK Consulting, based in Cincinnati. Cincinnati 2012, the group that tried unsuccessfully to attract the Olympics, hired KMK Consulting as part of the effort and received $80,000 of the $250,000, Mr. Redfern said. Mr. Robertson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Chip Gerhardt, a vice president with KMK, said Bruce Johnson, Mr. Robertson's successor, approved the grant and KMK did not receive any of the $250,000 for its lobbying efforts. He said Mr. Robertson did not do any work on the Olympics project and joined the firm after Cincinnati learned it was out of the running for the 2012 games.

Mary Anne Sharkey, Gov. Bob Taft's press secretary, said the governor earlier this year agreed that the state would provide $500,000 to Cincinnati 2012, with Kentucky providing $200,000 and the Northern Kentucky Travel and Tourism Bureau anteing up $50,000. “None of this had to do with Joe Robertson. It had to do with pitching Ohio for the Olympics,” she said.

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