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Reps. Crossman, Hicks-Hudson introduce anti-corruption legislation to strengthen accountability for state vendors

Ohio False Claims Act, Debarment of State Vendors would ensure taxpayer dollars are used responsibly
January 13, 2022
Paula Hicks-Hudson News

COLUMBUS – Today, State Reps. Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) and Paula Hicks-Hudson introduced 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 pass these bills to catch and punish fraud.”

“As the former Mayor of the City of Toledo, I know how important it is for contracts to go through a fair process and for vendors to be held accountable,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson. “The debarment bill that we introduced will give clear guidance to the Director of Administrative Services and the office holders, such as the Secretary of State and the Auditor, who oversee state business with corporations. Companies that are not playing by the rules shouldn’t be able to just pay a small fine and consider it the price of doing business with the State of Ohio.”

The Ohio False Claims Act will:

1.       Set out civil penalties for violators;

2.      Allow for a person to bring civil action against the violator(s) on behalf of the State and of that individual;

3.      Allow for the State to intervene in civil actions brought by individuals on the State’s behalf;

4.      Sets out guidelines for awarding proceeds from successful civil actions to the individual bringing that action;

5.      Sets out remunerations for employees who are subjected to retribution by their employer for participation in the civil action.

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:

1.      Attempted to influence a public employee to breach ethical conduct standards or to influence a contract award; 

2.      Colluded to restrain competition by any means; 

3.      Been convicted under state or federal antitrust laws; 

4.      Been convicted under state or federal corruption laws, including a criminal offense related to bribery.

The Ohio False Claims Act and the Debarment of State Vendors legislation currently await bill numbers and assignment to a House committee.