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Yost Should Fully Review Ill-Advised JobsOhio Ad Campaign

Scope of audit should include scrutiny of resources used in promotional plan, says Columbus lawmaker
June 20, 2013
Democrat Newsroom

State Representative John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) sent a letter to State Auditor Dave Yost calling on him to focus on the revived and misguided JobsOhio advertising campaign before Senate Bill 67 takes effect.

JobsOhio recently revived its controversial advertising campaign, which has been criticized in the past for marketing the entity, JobsOhio, to Ohioans—rather than strategically marketing the state to potential investors abroad. 

The letter was also sent to members of the General Assembly, and can be seen below:

June 20, 2013

The Honorable Dave Yost
Office of Auditor of State
88 East Broad Street, 5th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Auditor Yost,

Regarding my letter of June 10th, I am pleased to see that you have decided to complete a full and thorough audit of JobsOhio. I still find it unfortunate and wholly inappropriate that Governor Kasich and the Legislature have acted so swiftly to close off JobsOhio from scrutiny, but that only adds significance to the audit you have committed to performing.

Since you have pledged to complete the audit, and since SB67 has yet to take effect, I would submit that you have been provided with a narrow but important window to assuage the fears of Ohioans that this secretive entity is nothing more than a political tool of Governor Kasich’s. As such, I suggest that you have a duty to include in this audit a review of the troubling series of campaign-style print and digital advertisements placed by JobsOhio in communities across the state of Ohio this past weekend.

Traditionally, agencies charged with economic development – in Democratic and Republican administrations alike – have sought to market the state of Ohio and our people to business interests in other states and abroad, and I think we can all agree this is an acceptable and worthwhile practice. This latest round of advertising, however, appeared to have been directed largely toward Ohioans – Ohio voters, to be more precise – and would thus seem to serve no practical business recruitment purpose.

There is also the matter of the content of the advertisement itself, which relies solely on data from a non-scientific, non-random, voluntary survey that does not meet accepted standards of methodological rigor. Indeed, the advertisement, which matches rhetoric Governor Kasich uses regularly, reads like a piece of campaign literature.

I would also submit that comments from Governor Kasich’s spokesman, appearing in the Dayton Daily News the very same day these campaign-style advertisements were published, indicate an acute political sensitivity at JobsOhio and in the Governor’s office:

There’s a feeling among some political opponents out there that they have to kill JobsOhio in the cradle, because a successful JobsOhio that’s running up and down the court scoring points is an impossible metric thing for them to deal with.”

I hope you will agree with me that this sort of charged partisan rhetoric does nothing to alleviate concerns that JobsOhio is being used to serve the political interests of Governor Kasich rather than investing in Ohio’s people, and that the timing raises serious questions.

Therefore, insofar as it is in the interests of Ohio taxpayers to know that their money as it relates to JobsOhio is being spent carefully, wisely and in a manner likely to recruit businesses to Ohio, I encourage you to expand the scope of the audit you have pledged to conduct to include the following:

1) A detailed assessment of the cost of any electronic, print, or digital advertising incurred by JobsOhio during the period of November 2012 to the present.

2) An assessment of the source of the funds used by JobsOhio for any and all electronic, print, or digital advertising  during the period of November 2012 to the present, including an assessment of records and correspondence relating to the possible earmarking of private contributions to JobsOhio for advertising purposes. 

3) A detailed review of any planning memoranda regarding electronic, print, or digital marketing and advertising of JobsOhio, including cost estimates, discounts, market and demographic data, and any other resource used to justify advertising placements between November 2012 and the present.

4) An account of any third-party vendors involved in the advertising or marketing of JobsOhio between November 2012 and the present, including those firm’s officers, office locations, and standing within the state of Ohio.

5) Any official or unofficial correspondence between JobsOhio and the office of Governor John Kasich regarding JobsOhio marketing and advertising, and/or the survey published in Chief Executive magazine, or its digital counterpart, CEO.net.

6) Any official or unofficial correspondence between JobsOhio and the following individuals known to serve in a political advisory capacity to Governor Kasich regarding JobsOhio marketing and advertising, and/or the survey published in Chief Executive magazine, or its digital counterpart, CEO.net: Matt Borges, Rex Elsass, Robert Klaffky, Mark Kvamme, Doug Preisse, Donald Thibault, or any associates at the following business entities: Black Rock Media and Strategy Group for Media.

Once again, I look forward to seeing your full and thorough audit before SB67 goes into effect on September 3. 2013, and, in order for Ohioans to rule out their concern that JobsOhio is little other than Governor Kasich’s ancillary campaign fund, I encourage you in the strongest possible manner to include a review of its marketing practices.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

State Representative John Patrick Carney

CC: Ohio House of Representatives
Ohio Senate 

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