Local Democrats criticized Gov. John Kasich and six of nine members of Jobs-Ohio, the job-development agency he helped create, for having ties to companies that received tax credits and other state funding, saying it raises conflict-of-interest questions.
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, who voted in favor of a bill in February 2011 to create JobsOhio, said he trusted Kasich that the privatized economic-development committee would be transparent.
The Dayton Daily News reported last week that six of nine JobsOhio directors are employed by, sit on the board of, or hold stock in companies that received assistance from the state or JobsOhio, and the agency gave money to Worthington Industries. Kasich once served on that company’s board of directors.
“When things don’t seem right and things smell fishy there’s often some misconduct going on,” Schiavoni said.
The criticism isn’t about politics, Schiavoni said.
The Ohio Democratic Party organized Tuesday’s press conference at the Mahoning County Democratic Party headquarters in Boardman.
John A. McNally IV, the Democratic nominee for Youngstown mayor, said JobsOhio operates in a “culture of secrecy,” while Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti called for a full financial review.
The state Legislature passed laws, signed by Kasich, that exempt the Ohio Ethics Commission from investigating Jobs-Ohio members.
In response, Connie Wehrkamp, a Kasich spokeswoman, said, “Jobs-Ohio was created because the status quo embraced by the people holding this press conference led to skyrocketing unemployment and job loss. This is nothing more than a political stunt.”