Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine worries that other agencies’ public records could be converted into state secrets simply by being shared with JobsOhio.
DeWine will ask legislators and the administration of Gov. John Kasich to change a bill passed yesterday by the House to ensure that public records remain available to the public.
In creating Kasich’s privatized economic-development agency, legislators declared that records created or received by the nonprofit JobsOhio are not public, “regardless of who may have custody of the records.”
House members approved the same language yesterday in clarifying that JobsOhio records also could not be obtained under a law that allows Ohioans to obtain the records of nonprofits that detail the spending of public money.
That bill, which also restructures what’s left of the Ohio Department of Development and creates a board to promote tourism, was passed by the House 91-5 and goes to the Senate. Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard, a Democrat from Columbus, was among those who voted against it. The public-records issue was not raised during the floor debate.
Republican legislators previously shielded JobsOhio from compliance with the state’s public-records act, instead specifying which records, such as audits, payroll information and expenditure reports, would be released. Confidentiality, supporters say, is important to protect negotiations to land jobs.
DeWine believes the language in both the law and the legislation could affect public records from other public agencies and suddenly render them exempt from disclosure because they were sent to JobsOhio.