Local Dems attack JobsOhio program

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As the 2014 Ohio Governor’s race heats up, Democrats are now trying to attack Gov. John Kasich’s program to create jobs and promote economic development.

On Tuesday morning, a handful of local Democratic politicians met in Boardman with reporters to complain about the public-private partnership known as JobsOhio, which replaced the state’s old Department of Development. The agency includes board members appointed by the governor.

However, Democrats claim a number of those board members, as well as Kasich himself, have ties to the companies being helped with JobsOhio funds. Earlier this year, Ohio House Democrats proposed a series of reforms that would make the agency more accountable to the public.

“You cannot have people that are sitting on the board of directors of JobsOhio having their companies directly benefit. You cannot have a governor that is supposed to be looking out for all Ohioans looking out for all industry, receiving benefits from a company and they’re getting tax breaks in return,” said State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman.

Also in attendance at Tuesday’s news conference were former Mahoning County Commissioner and Youngstown mayoral candidate John McNally and Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti.

Although Democrats are asking the Ohio Ethics Commission to investigate, officials with the Governor’s office said JobsOhio board members and staff are required by law to disclose their financial information each year. And because JobsOhio is considered a non-profit private entity, it’s not subject to scrutiny from the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Kasich’s office called the event a political stunt.

“JobsOhio 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 attempting to distract from the economic progress Ohio has made over the past two and a half years, of which JobsOhio has played a key role. The fact that these politically-motivated attacks are even being made is because incentives to companies are disclosed. Furthermore, JobsOhio’s board and staff are required to report their personal financial information to the Ethics Commission, which is part of why JobsOhio is the most transparent private company in Ohio,” Kasich spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp said in a statement.

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