COLUMBUS – Today, State Reps. Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) and Paula Hicks-Hudson announced at a press conference the introduction of an anti-corruption legislative package including the “Ohio False Claims Act” and a strengthened debarment statute that would require a ban of vendors who are caught committing fraud in their dealings with the State of Ohio. The Ohio False Claim Act is modeled after a federal statute that has been successful in recovering millions of dollars every year at the federal level. Ohio is one of the few states in the country that does not have a state law modeled after the federal government’s “qui tam” law.
“Ohio is potentially letting criminals get away with millions of dollars of ill-gotten taxpayer dollars by failing to adopt these long-needed and commonsense reforms,” said Rep. Crossman. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t adopt techniques like this to catch and punish fraud.”
Pictured: Rep. Crossman speaks about the Ohio False Claims Act.
The Ohio False Claims Act would:
- Set out civil penalties for violators;
- Allow for a person to bring civil action against the violator(s) on behalf of the State and of that individual;
- Allow for the State to intervene in civil actions brought by individuals on the State’s behalf;
- Set out guidelines for awarding proceeds from successful civil actions to the individual bringing that action;
- Set out remunerations for employees who are subjected to retribution by their employer for participation in the civil action.
“These two anti-corruption bills are ways to further protect taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson. “Currently, there are not strong measures to hold state vendors accountable for their actions and prevent wrongdoers from continuing to do business with the State. These bills will correct that.”
The Debarment of State Vendors legislation would bar a vendor from consideration for contract awards upon a finding based upon a reasonable belief that the vendor has done any of the following:
- Attempted to influence a public employee to breach ethical conduct standards or to influence a contract award;
- Colluded to restrain competition by any means;
- Been convicted under state or federal antitrust laws;
- Been convicted under state or federal corruption laws, including a criminal offense related to bribery.
Democrats have introduced several other anti-corruption measures in addition to these pieces of legislation, including the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, which would require dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending, and the Public Corruption Repayment Act, which would require legislators to reimburse the state for compensation received between the time they were indicted for a felony involving public corruption and their conviction.
The Ohio False Claims Act and the Debarment of State Vendors legislation currently await bill numbers and assignment to a House committee.