It has been almost two years since the Ohio Supreme Court heard Zumbar v. Zeigler, a case that addressed the removal of former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler, whose staff was alleged to have embezzled nearly $3 million in taxpayer money from his office.

The debate was over whether the commissioners’ decision to remove Zeigler was permitted under the Ohio Constitution, specifically regarding due process. The Ohio Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the commissioners acted outside the bounds of the Constitution and ordered that Zeigler be reinstated.

Earlier this year, I reintroduced legislation that I proposed last year that would provide more safeguards taxpayer dollars. House Bill 10, or the “Fiscal Integrity Act,” would give county commissioners or a county auditor authority to remove a county treasurer for misconduct. This would include actions such as failure to properly perform the job or not being accountable for lost public money.

The decision would then receive a hearing before a judge or jury, which would determine whether the removal was the proper action to take. Similar checks and balances also apply to county auditors, city auditors, city treasurers and township fiscal officers.

Under current law, it is extremely difficult to remove from office someone who has mishandled public funds. This essentially allows bad actors to stay in office, a place they do not belong if they do not treat the job with honesty and respect.

Public officials are entrusted by the people who elect them to act with fairness and integrity with their tax dollars. Public dollars should be used for the public good, and elected officials who disrespect their sworn oath should be removed from office.

Political opinions run the gamut. But I think everyone agrees that our elected leaders should act with integrity and respect the people they represent. That includes being honest with their tax dollars. It is important, whenever someone falls short of these standards, that the proper mechanisms be in place to remove them from office.

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