State Rep. Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) today renewed her call for greater accountability and oversight for the office of the Inspector General (IG) in light of Tuesday’s reported failures to adequately investigate the “Coingate” scandal.
Specifically, Inspector General Randall Meyer failed to initially investigate the involvement of former Gov. Bob Taft in the decade-old scandal, citing a prohibition on examining expunged criminal records. Nearly no mention of the former Republican governor is contained in the IG’s long-awaited report on Coingate, yet Taft’s record is still public according to the Franklin County Clerk of Courts’ records and Taft himself. Meyer has now reversed his opinion, announcing he will revise his report to include Taft's connection to the matter.
“These mistakes are proof positive that reform is needed to remove any possible partisanship from the Inspector General’s office and give the taxpayers the accountability and oversight that they deserve," said Rep. Pillich. "Moving forward, I hope that the process for selecting the state's top watchdog follows the bipartisan guidelines laid out in legislation I introduced more than a year ago so that we can ensure politics do not sway the Inspector General's investigations of the executive branch."
Rep. Pillich’s proposal—House Bill 76—takes the appointment process for IG out of the governor’s hands and requires the four legislative leaders to appoint an inspector general by majority vote. The bill also restricts political activity for the IG and all employees of the IG, guidelines that are currently in place for other state administrative and legislative employees. The IG would serve a six year term subject to appointment and removal by a simple majority vote from the four legislative leaders.
Randall Meyer initially avoided investigating Taft's involvement with Noe, asserting that he had no responsibility to follow-up on Coingate until the non-partisan, public interest group Common Cause Ohio informed the IG that he had a legal obligation to do so. Following Meyer’s sluggish response to Coingate, The Toledo Blade filed suit to force the IG to take action.
Rep. Pillich and other Democratic State Representatives requested Meyer to investigate potential conflicts of interest at JobsOhio; inappropriate political pressure at state agencies; and the misuse of state planes.
Meyer has failed to respond to all three requests.