House Assistant Minority Leader Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma) and State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today asked the Inspector General to investigate alleged illegal hiring practices connected to summer youth employment opportunities with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“Just as Marietta is set to welcome people from all across the state – and all across the political spectrum – to their community for the governor’s State of the State, it appears that children are now a target of partisan hiring practices,” said Celebrezze. “Any indication that state job opportunities near Marietta are awarded based on political affiliation is deeply troubling.”
On March 29, Marietta City Council Member Cindy Oxender – a Republican – posted a solicitation on social media for interested parties to contact her if they knew of teens interested in summer employment with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The Council Member concludes her post with the statement, “Preference is given to Republican youth on this!”
“As far as I know, our kids’ political party affiliation has no bearing whatsoever on their skills and abilities,” said Sheehy, who serves as the ranking minority member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I urge to Inspector General to examine whether Ohio youth are being locked out of summer jobs just because they are Democrats or Independents.”
Editor’s note: a full copy of the letter is below. Councilwoman Cindy Oxender’s Facebook post is attached:
Mr. Randall J. Meyer, Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General
30 East Broad Street - Suite 2940
Columbus, Ohio 43215
April 6, 2016
Dear Mr. Meyer:
We would like to bring to your attention an elected official’s recent public allegation of a state agency using political affiliation as a hiring preference for state employment. Marietta City Council Member Cindy Oxender posted a solicitation on Facebook for interested parties to contact her if they knew of someone interested in summer employment with the Ohio Department of Transportation. She concludes her post with the statement, “Preference is given to Republican youth on this!”
Employment based on political affiliation, when it is not required for the effective performance of a position, is generally prohibited by state and federal civil service laws. We call upon you to investigate the Ohio Department of Transportation’s hiring and employment practices including the employment procedures followed in District 10 and ODOT’s other district offices in order to determine if political affiliation is a factor in agency employment decisions. We further request that you gather evidence of other elements considered by ODOT in their employment policies to determine whether, if present, any can be categorized as discriminatory practices.
Attached is a copy of Councilwoman Oxender’s Face Book post from March 29. We look forward to your response and thank you for your anticipated cooperation in determining if there are or have been illegal or improper employment practices at ODOT.
Representative Nicholas J. Celebrezze
Representative Michael P. Sheehy