by Randy Ludlow, The Columbus Dispatch

Is the state auditor’s office a law enforcement agency?

The office of Ohio Auditor Dave Yost seemed to make at least half a claim to same in denying a public-records request by the Ohio Democratic Party, in part, on an exemption most often cited by police and prosecutors.

The office of Republican Yost refused to release records into its pending investigation of whether some school districts, including Columbus, inflated their state report-card scores by altering attendance data.

State law declares that audits by Yost’s office are not public records until they are officially filed and that work papers and other documents underlying audits remain exempt from disclosure even after audits are released.

So, why did the state auditor find it necessary to also deny the Democrats’ records-request by invoking the “confidential law enforcement investigatory records” exemption in state law?

The exemption is designed to protect the identity of uncharged suspects, informants, witnesses and police officers and crime victims who could be endangered, as well as information gathered for probable criminal cases.

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