State Rep. Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) introduced legislation today to create greater accountability and oversight for the office of the Inspector General by requiring a bipartisan appointing process through the four legislative leaders. This legislation will ensure the state’s top watchdog maintains the necessary distance from partisan political activities.
“Recent activities have brought attention to the need for greater distance from political partisanship by the state’s top watchdog. The Inspector General is charged with the responsibility of investigating wrongdoing in state government and protecting taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse within the executive branch. Under no circumstance should Inspector General participate in any activity that could raise questions about the integrity and independence of the office,” said Rep. Pillich.
Serious questions about Inspector General Randy Meyer’s ability to objectively investigate wrongdoing in state government have been raised by his lack of judgment, and a report by the Columbus Dispatch that Mr. Meyer has only conducted 12 investigative reports, the fewest from the IG’s office since 2007. And most recently the Cleveland Plain Dealer uncovered the hiring of Mr. Meyer’s son by ODOT, an agency overseen by a deputy Inspector General for ODOT, whom is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of Mr. Meyer.
“At a time when the people of Ohio feel Columbus and government are out of touch and unaccountable, the role of an independent Ohio Inspector General is more important than ever,” said Rep. Pillich. “While similar bills have been introduced in past General Assemblies it is now evidently clear that legislative action is needed to ensure the Inspector General be independent, and maintain an independent appearance so that investigations and recommendations will be impartial and viewed by others as impartial.”
This legislation will provide the necessary distance from political activities to ensure the Inspector General can effectively and objectively investigate potential wrong doing by state officials. It will do so by taking the appointing authority away from the governor and giving it to the four legislative leaders. The appointment must be approved with 3 out of the 4 votes of these bipartisan leaders. This bill will also adopt the same restrictions on political activity for all employees of the IG and the IG as followed by other legislative and administrative employees. The IG would serve a six year term subject to removal by the Senate for gross neglect, misconduct, and/ or dereliction of duty.