Ohio Lt. Gov. Taylor responds to state watchdog’s report

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s lieutenant governor said Friday that her office has made some changes recommended in a report that found a former top aide of hers claimed traveling to salon appointments as work and got paid for it.

The office already began requiring supervisor approval for employee timesheets, according to a letter Friday to the state inspector general from Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also serves as director of the state’s insurance department.

That was among recommendations from the state’s watchdog after it reviewed work records for Taylor’s former chief of staff, Laura Johnson, and Johnson’s administrative assistant. It said the review brought into question the employees’ claims for pay for some working hours outside the office.

Johnson stepped down after irregularities were found in her timesheets, and her assistant also resigned. Johnson’s attorney has said she denies wrongdoing.

The inspector general’s office said Johnson charged the state for about $5,000 for hours that were not spent working, including traveling to and from home and salon appointments.

Prosecutors determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case.

The inspector general recommended Taylor consider paying employees in her office from a lieutenant governor’s budget, not the Department of Insurance. Taylor’s letter said that would require legislative authority, so her office will evaluate options to “meet the needs of the office.”

The inspector general also recommended that Department of Insurance employees working in Taylor’s office be clearly told to follow the department’s policies on attendance and work hours. Her letter says such employees will continue to follow the policies of the governor’s office, which is in the same location, in an effort to “create consistency and accountability.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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