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Government and Politics


No end yet for the JobsOhio controversy
Ohio's auditor gets the records he subpoenaed, but the debate continues in the Statehouse
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
In The Region:
The question over whether JobsOhio can be audited is temporarily resolved, now that the nonprofit, job-creating entity has turned over its financial records to state Auditor David Yost. But as Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, the controversy around JobsOhio is far from over.
JobsOhio controversy not over

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JobsOhio wasn’t on the agenda of the House Finance Committee. But it’s on the minds of many Democrats, including Rep. Denise Driehaus of Cincinnati, who made a motion to the panel.
 
Back and forth and back again
“I would like to make a request by way of a motion for the chair to compel the president and Chief Investment Officer John Minor of JobsOhio to testify before the House Finance and Appropriations Committee pursuant to Rule 33 of the House of Representatives.”
As Driehaus started to offer some background for her request, Republican Ron Amstutz of Wooster, the chairman of the committee, stepped in – and then was interrupted by ranking Democrat Vern Sykes of Akron. 
“Actually, the motion is out of order. I’m sorry. We are not prepared procedurally under that rule to go forward with the subpoena motion at this time. There’s nothing before the committee.” 
“What preparation is required, Mr. Chairman? May I ask?" 
“Are you challenging the ruling of the chair? 
“Yes.” 
“The clerk will take the roll on the challenging of the chair’s ruling of the motion out of order.”

A break but not an answer
There was a very brief break, and then the committee came back, with Sykes still concerned. 
“Clarification, questions have been asked of the chair. I think it’s appropriate that you answer the question.” 
“You may proceed.” 
“Good morning, Chairman Amstutz…”
There was no vote as Amstutz turned back to the next witness.

So what's it all about
Democrats have wanted JobsOhio CIO John Minor to testify about the operations of the entity, which this week turned over its financial records to Auditor David Yost under protest, saying he doesn’t have the authority to audit its private dollars.
And Gov. Kasich says that JobsOhio has complied Yost’s subpoena, no one should worry that he’s trying to hide something. 
“Well, I don’t think so anymore because we turned all the records over. JobsOhio has already been audited by KPMG, the private auditor. We’ve now opened up all the records.

Not another Department of Development
"But if the intent is to turn JobsOhio back into the Department of Development, which failed us, I’m not for that. I’m for an entity, a private entity, a not-for-profit entity, there’s no more public money in that entity.
"And they’re hiring people to go out who can go out and talk the language of job creators and I want them to keep doing it. And if it has to be clarified, then it has to be.
"But it’s not just JobsOhio. It’s any organization that ever received public money: Are they subject to audit? And if they are identical, then it causes great concern for them. But let’s see where this all goes.” 

Ignoring the politics
Kasich rejected the Democrats claim that JobsOhio is a sort of slush fund for the governor.
“I don’t pay much attention to what these political types say.”
In turning over its books to Yost, JobsOhio also announced it was paying back all the public money the state invested, and urging lawmakers to reassure businesses that confidential business records would not be made public and, as JobsOhio put it, “disclosed to their competitors.”

Democrats' concerns
But Democrats aren’t encouraged. Rep. Matt Lundy of Elyria said earlier this week that he still has many questions about the real purpose of JobsOhio. 
“He created this unaccountable slush-fund secret society. And the governor needs to admit this is bad for Ohio. He made a mistake.”
Kasich says Ohio has gained more than 100,000 jobs, and JobsOhio has been instrumental in that. But the entity’s critics have said, because of the lack of transparency in how JobsOhio operates, it’s impossible to pinpoint what jobs can actually be credited to the work done by JobsOhio.
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