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Ohio's lieutenant governor defends decision to add on private sector job

 Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R-Ohio) speaks to supporters after winning the primary election with Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) on May 3, 2022.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R-Ohio) speaks to supporters after winning the primary election with Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) on May 3, 2022.

Ohio’s Republican lieutenant governor is taking some heat for accepting an outside paid job on top of the work he’s already doing as the state’s second-in-command to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was elected by his fellow shareholders to the board of directors of Heartland Bank, which he described as a publicly-traded small business based in Ohio. The bank announced Husted's election to the new role at its annual meeting on May 17, two months after the actual shareholder vote.

Husted, who is also DeWine's running mate for re-election in November, said he'd thought about investing in a community bank and joining its board "for many years".

Husted, who works on workforce, technology and innovation, and regulatory issues as lieutenant governor, said those duties are only enhanced by what he’ll learn on this job.

“None of what I do in any way conflicts. I do not oversee banking. I don’t have any authority in that space. And it has no conflict of interest whatsoever. I believe it has great value," Husted said in a phone interview.

Husted said being on the board will help him understand how interest rates, inflation and government regulations affect small businesses and the economy.

“Understanding that and being involved in that has great value, I believe, for everyone to have public officials who truly understand these issues," Husted said.

Husted said there’s no set compensation, but he will disclose it.

Ohio's lieutenant governor has typically had a second position in state government — besides that primary position — going back to 1983 when Myrl Shoemaker was appointed by Gov. Richard Celeste to lead the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Former Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who served with former Gov. John Kasich, headed up the Ohio Department of Insurance. Lee Fisher, who was former Gov. Ted Strickland's lieutenant governor, directed the Ohio Department of Development. So did Bruce Johnson, who was ex-Gov. Bob Taft's lieutenant governor. He resigned just before his term ended to pursue private sector employment, and became the president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio.

It’s not illegal for an elected executive state official to take a private sector job, but it’s unclear if it’s happened before.

The CEO of Heartland Bank has donated more than $19,000 to Republican candidates since 2016.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.