Ohio Ethics Commission Investigates Columbus School Board Member


10 Investigates has learned the Ohio Ethics Commission is investigating Columbus City Schools board member Hanifah Kambon.     

Documents obtained by 10 Investigates show that ethics investigators are looking into a series of contracts between district schools and a company operated by Kambon's husband.

Kambon's husband, Ako Kambon, owns and operates Visionary Leaders Institute (also known as VLII).

In December, 10 Investigates revealed district officials from Columbus City Schools had approved nearly $12,000 in contracts for the education consulting company.

Those contracts may violate state laws that prevent school board members from gaining a benefit from their school district's business contracts.  

"It's important the Ethics Commission investigate this," said Catherine Turcer of Common Cause of Ohio.

Neither Kambon would answer questions about the investigation.

Emails obtained by 10 Investigates show the Ethics Commission's chief investigative attorney has requested the same documents 10TV used to break the story.      

School district officials have turned over numerous billing invoices, including one for a "keynote address" by "Mr. Ako Kambon" at Buckeye Middle School in May of 2011.

The bill was $750.

10 Investigates has also discovered information that appears to differ with previous statements made by Mrs. Kambon.  

In December, Mrs. Kambon claimed that she had no connection with VLI since taking office in 2010.

However, her email address listed on the district's web site is hanifah@vli123. That is nearly the same as the VLI web site, www.VLI123.com. It is also similar to Ako's email address that ends VLI123.

"I think it's really important for the Ohio Ethics Commission to do their job," said Turcer. "So the people of Columbus will understand what actually happened."  

State law does not allow the Ohio Ethics Commission to comment on its investigations.

A school district spokesman said the district is "fully cooperating" with the investigation.

The spokesman said Kambon is unaware of any adverse findings by the Ethics Commission.

It is not clear when Ethics Commission investigators will finish their probe.

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