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· April 9, 2013

Top-Secret Kasich “Consultant” is Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week

With the April 15 tax filing deadline just days away, Gov. Kasich is telling Ohio taxpayers that what one of his Crony Consultants did to earn $115,000 in state money is a “trade secret” that need not be disclosed. What has been disclosed by the Dayton Daily News is that the Administration abruptly cancelled Jim Leftwich’s consulting contract last November — and referred him to the Ohio Ethics Commision — after learning he had an outrageous conflict of interest. Leftwich formerly served in Kasich’s cabinet as Director of the state Development agency. Leftwich, it seems, was being paid $85 an hour by the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) to convince the Federal Aviation Administration to designate the Dayton-Springfield area as a testing site for unmanned aerial vehicles, sometimes known as “drones.” At the same time, Leftwich’s consulting firm had a $20,000 per month contract with Wright State University in Dayton. Part of Leftwich’s arrangement there was helping Wright State secure funding for projects — funding awarded by the very state agency he previously headed and that had given him his six figure consulting contract. These overlapping and possibly conflicting interests — coupled with the fact that the FAA has yet to decide where to locate the drone testing site — caused the DDN to inquire last week exactly what Mr. Leftwich did to earn $114,850 in just 13 months. The Administration told the newspaper that the entire body of Mr. Leftwich’s work was a “trade secret” which would not be publicly disclosed. At least the Kasich Administration is consistent.  Unfortunately, it is consistently secretive.  A few weeks ago, they tried to block Auditor of State Dave Yost from examining the books to find out how JobsOhio spent $5 million in taxpayer money. Now they claim that what a contractor did to earn $115,000 from the taxpayers is a ‘trade secret.’  Obviously, openness and transparency aren’t exactly this Administration’s long suit. So as April 15 approaches and Ohio taxpayers struggle with their  W-2s, exemptions, credits and schedules, Innovation Ohio thought it only fair to bestow this month’s TaxPayer Rip-off  Award on both Gov. John Kasich and his ‘We’d-Love-To-Tell-You-What-He-Did-For-The-Money-But-We-Can’t-Because-Its-A-Trade-Secret’ consultant, Jim Leftwich. Perhaps we’ll have more luck finding out once the Ohio Ethics Commission completes its investigation.

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