State Reps. Ted Celeste (D- Grandview); Jay P. Goyal (D- Mansfield); Matt Lundy (D- Elyria); and Connie Pillich (D- Cincinnati) held a news conference to discuss the lack of transparency across government. This comes after the release of a national report by the Center for Public Integrity in which Ohio received an overall grade of “D” for risk of corruption.
“We call on our legislative leaders today to take action and convene a special taskforce to review the current laws and enforcement practices and to take the necessary steps to correct problems, and ensure full accountability and transparency throughout government,” said Rep. Goyal. “We have a responsibility to the people of Ohio and it is simply unacceptable for us to fail to ensure government is working for Ohioan’s best interest at all times, not for special interest or influences.”
The lawmakers sent a letter to legislative leaders today calling for them to convene a special bi-partisan taskforce to review the enforcement practices of current laws and consider new legislation to strengthen accountability and transparency across government. The letter also calls for hearings on bills already introduced that address several of the areas covered in the report. A copy of the letter can be seen below.
There have been numerous concerns raised in recent weeks involving a lack of transparency and accountability inside and outside of government. Most recently state and federal law-enforcement officers have been called on to investigate potential quid pro quo dealings.
“This Governor is determined to operate this state in the dark. We can never let that happen. If you have nothing to hide you should always want the process to be as open as possible,” said Rep. Lundy. “As legislators we must take action to correct these problems immediately.”
Other instances include serious questions surrounding the state’s top independent watchdog, Inspector General Randy Meyer, and his ability to objectively investigate fraud and corruption. These questions came to the forefront after Mr. Meyer participated in the most partisan of activities by headlining a GOP fundraiser.
“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. “It is simply unacceptable for Ohio to not address these ongoing issues of lack of transparency and possible corruption in our state government.”
“Ohio leads the nation in terms of political gerrymandering,” said Rep. Celeste. “Last year’s attempt at redrawing statewide and Congressional boundaries was done in such a way to deliberately withhold information from the public about redistricting. As elected officials who represent the best interests of our constituents, we should demand better from ourselves and from each other.”
Not surprisingly, Ohio received an “F” in the State Integrity Investigation for redistricting, legislative accountability, and lobbying disclosure.
A copy of the letter sent to legislative leaders can be seen below.
March 26, 2012
Dear Honorable Leaders of the Ohio General Assembly,
We write today with great concern over the recent ethics report from the State Integrity Investigation, in which Ohio received a “D” grade overall. Among the various 14 categories in which Ohio was graded, we received only two grades higher than a “C-”.
Specifically, Ohio received a “C-” for both public access to information and political financing; a “D-” for both executive and judicial accountability; and an “F” for redistricting, legislative accountability, and lobbying disclosure.
This situation is unacceptable, and needs to be dealt with. Therefore, we are hereby calling upon the leaders of the Ohio General Assembly to create a bi-partisan taskforce to review the enforcement practices of current laws and consider new legislation to strengthen accountability and transparency.
Furthermore, each of us has already introduced legislation that would address many of the areas that received among the lowest of grades. Thus far not one of these bills has received a single committee hearing. Not only are these important bills not getting passed, but they are not even being considered and discussed. Therefore, we are hereby calling on the following bills to be called up for committee hearings immediately upon the legislature’s return from spring recess: HBs 55, 113, 294, 413, 451 and HJR 5.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Jay P. Goyal
C: Speaker William Batchelder, Senate President Thomas Niehaus, Minority Leader Armond Budish, Minority Leader Eric Kearny