The Ohio Ethics Commission is trying to figure out what to do about a conflict of interest at the Ohio Department of Education.
10 Investigates uncovered that ODE Superintendent Stan Heffner and his staff took trips for work on behalf of two educational organizations operated by the American Institute for Research (AIR).
AIR was paid $203 million in education-related services since 2009, according to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.
Heffner received $1,500 in travel reimbursements from AIR. Altogether, Heffner’s staff accepted $9,800 in AIR reimbursements.
The Ethics Commission decision could change when it is OK for state officials to take things of value from businesses that perform work for the state.
On Wednesday, some commissioners initially seemed to favor an exception that would allow Heffner to take the free flights, but others were concerned that it could be a mistake and contradicts the law that forbids “substantial and improper” gifts.
“I would really want more time to consider that because when you’re dealing with the substantiality of the testing contract, then improper certainly comes into view,” said Commissioner Betty Davis.
After 10 Investigates began questioning, the ODE reimbursed all of the payments for travel. ODE self-reported the situation to the ethics commission prior to 10 Investigates’ probe.
The Ethics Commission is expected to review the issue again in August.
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June 28, 2012: Ohio Department Of Education Reimburses Contractor For $9,800 In ‘Questionable’ Travel Costs