CityBeat: No Endorsement for Ohio Auditor

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s job is to make sure the state’s money is used efficiently and without corruption.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s job is to make sure the state’s money is used efficiently and without corruption. Yost, a Republican, hasn’t done a terrible job in this respect and has demonstrated integrity. Yost tried to audit the state’s economic development agency JobsOhio, a Republican darling nonprofit with $261 million in the bank that runs on profits from the state-run liquor distribution system. Ohio’s General Assembly, where the GOP dominates, passed a law blocking that move. Why don’t Republicans want JobsOhio audited by the state auditor? It’s Yost’s job to find out.

Yost has also tried to bring some measure of accountability to Ohio’s charter schools, which run on state money but have little state oversight. He’s managed to get some very poorly operating schools shuttered, another mark to his favor. Yost also doesn’t bear sole responsibility for keeping charter schools accountable. But there are plenty of other sketchy charter school shenanigans that have been allowed to continue for too long, and Yost seems to have just recently woken up to the fact that something is amiss.

Finally, Yost played a part in drawing up Ohio’s atrociously partisan congressional districts in 2011. Though he has said he wasn’t a powerful member of the committee that made these decisions drawing district boundary lines in Republicans’ favor, he bears some of the blame.

A watchdog is someone who is alert, pugnacious, relentless and fair. Yost has shown he can be some of these things some of the time, but not on a consistent basis.

His opponent, Democratic state Rep. John Patrick Carney, pledges to be more aggressive if elected. But Carney has made some big missteps, including a painfully dumb political ad accusing Yost of paying $7 each for 1,000 cups of coffee at taxpayer’s expense at a conference in 2012. The only problem: There was no coffee at the conference, only $3 bottles of soda, and much of the gathering’s expenses were paid by registration fees, not by taxpayers. If Carney can’t do the accounting on that, how will he keep the whole state government accountable?

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