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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

OHIO LT. GOVERNOR

2 Taylor staffers quit in wake of time issues

Discrepancy in hours found during review

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor
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COLUMBUS — Two staff members of Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor resigned this week after a public records request found that the hours for which they were paid were “significantly” more than the time state parking garage records showed they were actually in the building.

Laura Horowitz Johnson, Ms. Taylor’s chief of staff who worked with the Republican lieutenant governor on the 2010 campaign and in the state auditor’s office, resigned Thursday. Her one-sentence letter offered no reason.

Ms. Johnson’s assistant, Heather Brandt, resigned Wednesday, citing an “unhealthy hostile work environment” in her brief letter.

The cases have been referred to Inspector General Randy Meyer and the Ohio Highway Patrol.

A letter to Mr. Meyer’s office from Ms. Taylor said a review of records of the staff members’ entry and exit of the parking garage at the Riffe Center showed their cars were in the garage “significantly less than the total amount of hours that each of them recorded as having worked.”

Ms. Taylor’s letter said she provided them with “some flexibility” in their work schedules because of “personal issues,” but found the discrepancies in actual hours to be more than she anticipated.

“As a working mom, I know it’s hard to juggle both family and a job so I’ve tried to be supportive of my own staff as they juggle those demands,” she said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the flexibility I’ve tried to show the chief of staff of my personal office hasn’t been appropriately respected, and the workings of the office have suffered.”

“In any workplace, especially a public workplace, responsibility and trust come with accountability, and in this case I think I’ve been let down,” she said. “Not only is that disappointing, but it’s also unacceptable, which is why I’ve forwarded this matter to the right authorities for their review.”

Ms. Johnson was paid $120,016 a year as chief of staff, and Ms. Brandt made $60,008. Taylor spokesman Chris Brock said the office did not know the value of the time for which the two were paid but may not have worked.

The review, initiated as a result of an April 29 public records request from the Democratic-leaning Web site Plunderbund Media, examined the employees’ hours since Jan. 1 after receiving a tip.

“Mary Taylor is so disconnected from her own office that it took an outside public records request to reveal her long-serving and closest staff member was abusing the office, and another quit over the ‘hostile work environment,’ ” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Meredith Tucker. “It’s inexcusable that Mary Taylor didn’t even know these issues were happening with her closest aides.”

Ms. Taylor is seeking re-election with Gov. John Kasich. His Democratic opponent is Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. Greene County resident Sharen Neuhardt is his running mate.

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



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