Ohio AG Dewine Finds Himself In Middle Of JobsOhio Battle

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UPDATED: Wednesday March 20, 2013 6:11 PM

One chapter in the JobsOhio debate ended on Tuesday when the agency turned over its books to state auditor Dave Yost.

But Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine suggests the fight over transparency between Gov. John Kasich and Auditor Yost is just beginning.

"I am the governor's lawyer, I am the auditor's lawyer," DeWine said.

DeWine will not say specifically what he recommended to either Kasich or Yost on the JobsOhio subpoena, but indicates his advice leaned the auditor's way.

"When we're dealing with public money the auditor has the right to audit where that money goes," DeWine said. "The case law is very clear in that area. The auditor also has the right to audit whatever he has to audit, in order to determine where that money went."

There are big issues still looming for JobsOhio, including debate on whether an estimated $100 million a year from state liquor revenue should be audited by the state.

Kasich points to a private audit by KPMG that found $6.9 million in secret donations to the agency and over $5.2 million in state grants.

JobsOhio announced Tuesday it will repay all the public money it has received.

DeWine says if public money is kept completely separate, Yost would have no legal standing to audit it.

"But if the money is put into a bigger account, he simply has to follow that money and he can audit anything he needs to audit in order to determine where that public money is," DeWine said.

In a letter sent to lawmakers Tuesday obtained by 10TV, Yost ripped the agency created by Kasich two years ago.

"The State of Ohio buys cars from Chrysler, but there is no connection at all between the sale price and Chrysler's private accounts. The AOS has zero jurisdiction," Yost wrote.

"But JobsOhio is different. All board members are appointed by the governor. Its money comes from the state's liquor profits...But for that public money, there is no JobsOhio."

Yost then challenged lawmakers to back off threats to limit his jurisdiction.

"While there have been no indications of misdealing, the potential for self dealing or other mischief exists sometime in the future."

House Speaker Bill Batchelder responded by calling Yost "erratic."

DeWine has not determined whether liquor profits should be considered public funds.

Kasich says they are private because JobsOhio paid the state to lease them.

"We have not completed our research on this," DeWine said.  "We have clients who need to ask us for opinions.  We have statutory clients.  So if we're asked by a public official to give an opinion we will give a formal opinion."

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