Ohio Auditor David Yost, a Republican who won his statewide race in 2010 when John Kasich and other Republicans swept the field from Democrats, took on Gov. Kasich Wednesday when he issued a subpoena seeking the financial records for JobsOhio, Gov. Kasich's private nonprofit job-creation group.
The subpoena follows several months of negotiations between his office and JobsOhio's chief financial officer, Kevin Giangola, the AP reported. Mr. Yost, who said his office has the legal authority to review the private entity's finances, also shared with a capital city reporter the news that JobsOhio isn't cooperating.
A Kasich spokesman said the administration supports Yost auditing taxpayer money going to JobsOhio, but his authority regarding its private funds is less clear, according to an AP report.
Mr. Yost said in a statement the he and Gov. Kasich have the same goal, to make sure JobsOhio’s money is "working for the people of Ohio—creating jobs and growing this economy for our families." Yost said proceeds from the recent sale of private bonds "trace directly back to the public money," which is he wants to "look at the total picture."
At issue is $6.6 million in private contributions from unspecified donors that came to light in an audit conducted for JobsOhio by the private firm KPMG.
If the Speaker of the Ohio House has a say in any of this, Gov. Kasich has little to fear from party companion Yost. "If there’s clarification needed in the law, maybe it’s because there isn’t any power for him to do what he’s doing …,” Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) told the Toledo Blade. "I drafted most of that [legislative language]," the Speaker noted, adding that Mr. Yost doesn’t have that authority to go into a private corporation and audit it. "I’m waiting for him to get into Chrysler Motors or Fiat. You know we bought a lot of those cars this year."
Gov. Kasich has no problem with Auditor Yost auditing all the public money. "The problem gets to be when you get into private companies. Any time there’s public money, we’re absolutely in favor of that being audited. Hopefully, we’ll get this all worked out," the governor said, according to Blade reporter Jim Provance.
With a friendly legislature of Republicans who enjoy a supermajority, it would not be a surprise if lawmakers changed the auditor's authority to avoid any politically ugly outcomes from the auditors review of JobsOhio financial operations. With a characteristic non-specific response, Kasich said he really didn't know, but "Maybe there’ll have to be some clarification."
Gov. Kasich has had an eye to 2014 ever since he became governor in January of 2011, and is gearing up for a run against an as yet to be declared Democratic candidate. Even with his ample advantages to date, Gov. Kasich still suffers from numbers that are not the most robust when pitted against a field of possible challengers.
Kasich launched the idea of JobsOhio during his campaign for governor, then put it into law as the General Assembly's first big bill in 2011. The buzz at the beginning, two years ago, was that Ohio's previous job-development efforts were not able to move at the "speed of business" because they were stuck moving at the "speed of statute." JobsOhio, accordingly, is designed to speed up Ohio's existing economic development efforts. However, the lack of transparency and public scrutiny has been a thorn in the side of JobsOhio, an entity John Kasich once boasted he would lead until he it became a political hot potato.
A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of JobsOhio is in the courts.
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