Yost Says He Would Not Have Supported New JobsOhio Law

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UPDATED: Friday June 7, 2013 12:03 PM

State Auditor Dave Yost, appearing on 10TV’s Capitol Square, says he would not have backed a law signed this week by Gov. John Kasich that will prohibit the auditor from inspecting the state's wholesale liquor profits funding JobsOhio.

"There are things in that bill that do reflect discussions we had, but we never had agreement about the redefining of public money in the way that this bill does," said Yost.  "Frankly, I wouldn't have agreed to that had I seen the language before it was offered to the General Assembly."

With the new law in place, Yost can no longer provide a public buffer between Kasich and JobsOhio. He hints that he expects a future legislature to change its mind on how the agency is audited.

"The legislature has the finality of say," said Yost. "I've expressed my concerns. I've written to the legislature, and I've talked about this extensively for months.  At this point, it's time for me to move on.  We'll see how this goes.  We have a two-year legislature and we see regular improvements as experience helps formulate our public policy debates."

The new law ensures that the $100 million a year JobsOhio will be getting from a lease of state wholesale liquor profits is considered private money and cannot be audited by Yost.

Kasich told reporters this week that JobsOhio is creating a better economic environment for job growth. He also said the agency has more scrutiny than any non-government entity in the state.

"JobsOhio is not a government operation," said Kasich. "JobsOhio issued debt and there are bond holders that allow JobsOhio to buy this from the state of Ohio. It is not a government entity. You don't want government getting in and auditing the affairs of private companies."

Yost says he never wanted to audit any business in the private sector, but challenges the Governor on whether JobsOhio should have some public accountability.

"This is a unique private company," said Yost.  "The Governor appoints all nine members of the Board of Directors. The legislature set it up. It has its own chapter of the Ohio Revised Code to govern its corporate affairs.  And it has many provisions that apply only to it, not to any other private company.  My view has always been JobsOhio isn't a government agency, but it's not really like Chrysler corporation or some other private company either."

Yost, a Republican, admits he is in a tricky political predicament.
For months earlier this year, he battled Kasich, also a Republican, over JobsOhio.  Ultimately, Kasich backed down and turned over the books for Yost to examine.

"That was a difficult time period for me personally," said Yost. "But I've always felt from the time I was a journalist 30 years ago that my first obligation was to do my duty, not to be liked."

Democratic strategist Sam Gresham says the argument over JobsOhio will continue through next year’s campaign.

"From the very beginning, I thought that this was a scandal waiting to happen," said Gresham.  "Now, this law pastes it over and keeps anybody from looking into it.  Eventually, when Pandora's Box is opened, there's going to be so much horror."

Republican strategist Terry Casey says both Kasich and Yost will benefit from the new law.

"There's a whole lot of things in this law that do require audits by a CPA firm and certain other kind of disclosures," said Casey.  "The main thing the Governor wants to do is get more jobs that create more revenue and that's a win-win for everybody."

You can watch the exclusive interview with Yost this Sunday at 11:30 on 10TVs Capitol Square.


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