The feud over Auditor Dave Yost’s authority to inspect JobsOhio’s private finances ended (March 19) with Yost getting the records he wanted. At the same time, JobsOhio announced it would repay the state the public money it already has received — at least $7.5 million.
(Tuesday)’s developments set up a much-larger disagreement over the auditor’s ability to review the state’s privatized development agency, with potentially greater consequences. With JobsOhio now funded by proceeds from its lease of the state’s wholesale liquor profits, those on all sides are staking out positions on whether those profits are public dollars — and thus subject to audit.
JobsOhio’s announcement that it would pay back the public money caught most people by surprise. Yost had not asked that the money be repaid; rather, he demanded access to the financial records of how the money was spent. The development agency yesterday said “there will be no more public funds in JobsOhio.”
Brian Rothenberg, head of the liberal group ProgressOhio, said the move “is likely an attempt to argue that JobsOhio no longer (has) public funds to be audited in the future.”
JobsOhio had agreements with the state for grants worth at least $6.5 million, and lawmakers appropriated $1 million in 2011 to cover the organization’s startup costs.
The agency, created by Gov. John Kasich and lawmakers in 2011 to conduct the state’s economic development privately, is now being funded from the proceeds of a $1.5 billion lease of the state’s liquor profits, expected to generate $100 million annually. JobsOhio has said it plans to use the money largely for loans and grants to businesses.
Additional News Coverage
- JobsOhio complies with Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s records subpoena but still disputes auditor’s legal authority (From The Plain Dealer)
- JobsOhio to refund more than $1 million to state; GOP rift continues (From The Dayton Daily News)
- JobsOhio: Where’s the transparency they promised? (From The Cincinnati Enquirer)
- JobsOhio must be accountable (From The Cincinnati Enquirer)
- JobsOhio can’t be allowed to hide from the public (From The Plain Dealer)
- Demonizing Yost (From The Akron Beacon Journal)
- JobsOhio needs to open books (From The Akron Beacon Journal)
- State Auditor Yost is justified in targeting JobsOhio’s books (From The Vindicator)