Director Who Improperly Searched 'Joe The Plumber' Resigns

Published:
Updated:

An agency director who was suspended after an investigation found that she improperly used state computers to research the man known as 'Joe the Plumber' offered her resignation on Wednesday.

Gov. Ted Strickland suspended Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, for one month after the state's inspector general determined that she had no reasonable basis to authorize background checks on Samuel J. Wurzelbacher.

Wurzelbacher, who became known as Joe the Plumber, gained notoriety in the weeks leading up to the presidential election after posing questions to Barack Obama about his tax plan.

SLIDESHOW: Images Of 'Joe The Plumber'

Jones-Kelley had nearly completed serving her suspension when she decided to leave her post, 10TV's John Fortney reported.

"The decision comes after having a time of pause in which I realize I continue to be used as a political postscript, providing a distraction from urgent state priorities," Jones-Kelley said in a statement.

Strickland's office released a statement after Jones-Kelley made her decision to step down.

"The governor values Helen Jones-Kelley's years of public service as a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable among us," the statement read. "He understands her decision and accepts her resignation."

Ohio Republican Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine said action against Jones-Kelley should have come sooner.

"It was something that (should have) happened a month ago (and) was something that (should have) been done by the governor himself," DeWine said. "It shouldn't have been left hanging in the balance for the better part of 30 days."

Interim Director Jan Allen will assume Jones-Kelley's duties until the governor selects a replacement.

Two other ODJFS managers that were previously suspended will also leave their positions.

Deputy Director Doug Thompson, who was suspended for telling an employee to send a misleading e-mail about the background checks, has been fired, Fortney reported.

Assistant Director Fred Williams announced his resignation, effect Jan. 31.

Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for continuing coverage.

Previous Story:

November 20, 2008: 'Joe The Plumber' Records Improperly Searched