COLUMBUS- Today, House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), State Reps. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) announced legislation that would prohibit any statewide officeholder from holding private employment, performing private work, or serving in any private position for which they receive compensation. This bill would not impact compensation received as a member of the Armed Forces.
“Elected officials should serve the people, not their own self-interests,” said Leader Russo. “The State Official Integrity Act sends a strong message that we will not tolerate corruption at any level of our government, regardless of political party.”
The legislation would apply to the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor of state, treasurer of state, secretary of state, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, and any other justices of the Supreme Court. Any state official that violates the bill’s prohibitions would have to forfeit their office. The legislation would be enforced by the Ohio Ethics Commission.
“This bill supports our continued fight against corruption in Ohio. There should be no doubt in Ohioans’ minds that their elected officials are working for them, rather than for their own personal or financial gain,” said joint sponsor Rep. Weinstein.
“As elected officials, we are expected to serve our constituents with integrity and avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest. Those in the highest positions of power should not be able to advantage themselves at the expense of the people of Ohio. This legislation will be a step towards building the public’s trust in Ohio’s government,” said joint sponsor Rep. Lightbody.
This May, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted took a paid corporate board job with Heartland BanCorp. The unprecedented move for a statewide elected official to hold a paid corporate board position raises concerns about statewide officeholders utilizing political influence for personal gain and creating potential conflicts of interest. Husted will not be required to report his compensation from the board until next year’s mandatory state financial disclosure.
Recently disclosed texts also now suggest Husted used his influence to press for Ohio’s corrupt nuclear bailout legislation— contrary to initial claims he was uninvolved with the bill’s passage.
Democrats have also introduced several other bills this General Assembly to fight corruption and restore integrity to state government, including:
Ohio Anti-Corruption Act: Requires dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending;
Public Corruption Repayment Act: Requires legislators to reimburse the state for compensation received between the time they were indicted for a felony involving public corruption and their conviction;
Ohio False Claims Act: Empowers individuals to report and hold companies committing fraud accountable;
Debarment of State Vendors Act: Requires a ban of vendors who are caught committing fraud in their dealings with the State of Ohio;
House Bill (HB) 10: Fully repeals HB 6, including refunds to customers.
Watch the full press conference HERE.