Instead of the Ohio Department of Development continuing its traditional role,
House Bill 1, which Kasich signed into law in February, created a nonprofit headed by Kasich and eight board members he will appoint. JobsOhio will be responsible for reaching out to existing companies and firms thinking about expanding into Ohio, negotiating economic incentive packages and helping to commercialize research and technologies developed at the state’s universities.
As a private entity, the group will not be subject to the state’s open meetings and records laws, ethics and conflict of interest rules or other requirements that generally affect state agencies. Instead, JobsOhio will be required to have four public meetings annually and will have to disclose contract information, employee salaries and other details in an annual report.
As Plunderbund has detailed, the structure of JobsOhio creates the likelihood of kickbacks. Additionally, JobsOhio doesn't just represent a privatizing of job creation, but state liquor profits were handed over to the new entity, which removes a consistent revenue stream from the state.
Now, JobsOhio and Kasich's efforts to defend SB 5 have come together. ProgressOhio is suggesting that state money is going through JobsOhio to private chambers of commerce and development agencies that supported Kasich and other supporters of SB 5, as well as the bill itself:
Rothenberg said he began a close examination of JobsOhio after Kasich's surprise announcement that it will rely on Third Frontier money—in addition to hundreds of millions in liquor profits.
He especially took issue with Kasich's companion announcement that he has set aside a $24 million pool of Third Frontier funds for distribution to local chambers of commerce and other private, regional economic development agencies. The announcement came after most of the agencies or their partners endorsed SB5, a Kasich-backed law to limit the collective bargaining rights of police, firefighters, teachers and other public employees.
SB 5 or no, Kasich appears to be funneling state money to private organizations and businesses that are his ideological allies, and doing so within structures he set up to maximize his control and minimize transparency. The possibility that he's doing so in part to help underwrite a campaign on a ballot question just highlights how much corruption is possible within the structures he's set up.