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Investigator: Ohio Inspector General under fire

7:02 PM, Feb 14, 2012   |    comments
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As Ohio's inspector general, Randall Meyer is supposed to be independent watchdog. But following a high-profile gaffe and questionable hirings, some critics are calling him nothing more than a Republican lapdog.

The Gov. John Kasich appointee made headlines last fall when his office found the state wasted millions in federal stimulus money by allowing shoddy work on home weather-proofing jobs.  

But now it appears that Meyer is making news for the wrong reasons. Last month, he was found hobnobbing at a political fundraiser - even though his office is not supposed to be political.

It is more than a little ironic that Meyer, talking about his investigation into corruption, told the crowd: "We often wonder what people are thinking. It's surprising what people do and what they apparently think is acceptable."

"Randall Meyer is fast becoming the most overtly political inspector general we've ever had in this state," said Dale Butland of Innovation Ohio, a liberal think tank.

But Butland and others say their criticism goes beyond the fundraiser, accusing Meyer of turning a blind eye to things that could give Republicans a black eye.

Issues like a $15 million contract the Kasich administration gave to a California firm to squeeze more money out of casinos. According to records obtained by Channel 3 News, the company was ranked second behind another firm, which promised to do the job for less.  

Then there's the Kasich administration's use of the state plane. Last summer, Channel 3 News documented Kasich's penchant for the mile-high perk. It turns out Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor had the plan fly from Columbus to her hometown of Canton to pick her up.

There's another wrinkle to the story -- Meyer used to work for Taylor at the state auditor's office.     

Meyer's also accused of signing up for the state's friends and family plan. First, he hired the son-in-law of Jo Ann Davidson, chairman of the Casino Control Commission. Then, Meyer's son got a summer internship at the state's transportation department. The problem is that Meyer investigates both agencies.

The inspector general declined to discuss the personnel moves. His office also said it's policy not to discuss anything they might be investigating.

Butland says Meyer's record doesn't pass the smell test.

"There are potential scandals within the administration that appointed him right under his nose ... that he apparently doesn't have any interest in pursuing," Butland said.

WKYC-TV

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