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Published: Thursday, 2/21/2013

Dems want panel to pick watchdog

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS — Democrats will try again to convince majority Republicans to pass a bill changing how Ohio selects its state government watchdog.

“Requests for a final report on the most pervasive criminal scandal in state government of recent memory, Coingate, have still gone unanswered,” said Rep. Connie Pillich (D., Cincinnati). “It shouldn’t take an outside advocacy group to inform Inspector General Meyer of his legal obligations. Ohioans need nonpartisan, independent leadership — particularly from unelected bureaucrats.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island), who doubles as Ohio Democratic Party chairman.

He has been critical of Inspector General Randy Meyer, an appointee of Republican Gov. John Kasich, for not yet publicly releasing the agency’s investigation into former Toledo area coin dealer Tom Noe and the rare-coin investment funds he managed for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Noe is serving an 18-year state prison sentence for stealing from that $50 million investment.

The investigation was conducted under Mr. Meyer’s predecessor, Tom Charles, now Mr. Kasich’s director of public safety.

Democrats introduced a similar bill last session, but it went nowhere.

House Bill 459 would remove the authority of appointing the inspector general from the governor and give it to a bipartisan panel made up of state legislative leaders.

Mr. Meyer’s office has said it does plan to issue the final Coingate report, but has offered no timeline as to when.



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