Today the Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio (ACT Ohio) submitted a complaint to Joint Legislative Inspector General, Tony W. Bledsoe, asserting that State Representative John Adams and his Legislative Aide Kara Joseph violated state ethics laws by actively fundraising for the American Legislative Exchange Council utilizing state resources, while on state property and on state time. Rep. John Adams is the Ohio Chairman of ALEC.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is a corporately funded conservative group that provides state legislators the opportunity to work with business leaders on model legislation. ACT Ohio began investigating the activities of ALEC in Ohio earlier this year after it was reported that the group was actively pushing “So Called Right to Work” initiatives around the country.
Public records obtained by ACT Ohio show that Representative Adams and his Aide Kara Joseph have actively fundraised for ALEC from state offices, using state e-mail addresses. E-mail exchanges between Ms. Joseph and lobbyists show her accepting corporate donations to ALEC while at her state office. Public records also show Ms. Joseph working with corporate lobbyists to solicit funds for the organization. In one particularly brazen example, Ms. Joseph sent a fundraising invoice to Duke Energy to the tune of $20,000.00 from her state e-mail address. Additionally, records show Ms. Joseph engaging other Ohio House of Representatives members and staff to aide in fundraising efforts for ALEC.
The Ohio House of Representatives Employee Handbook bars using its internet network for “activity outside the scope of employment.” Under the Handbook the states computers are to be “used solely for state purposes.” In ACT Ohio’s complaint to the Legislative Inspector General’s Office it asserts that fundraising for a 501(c)(3) is not a state purpose and is outside the scope of employment for an employee of the Ohio House of Representatives.
“It is absolutely inappropriate for members and staff of the General Assembly to be using state resources to fundraise for a private group. This breach of the public’s trust is truly disappointing and needs to be fully investigated by the Legislative Inspector General’s Office.” said ACT Ohio Executive Director Dennis Duffey.
ACT Ohio’s complaint to the Inspector General’s Office comes on the heels of recent reports from the Associated Press on the close relationship between some Ohio Republicans and ALEC.
Public records reviewed by ACT Ohio confirm a close connection between Ohio legislators and the group. ALEC sent multiple pieces of model legislation to State Representatives Adams, one of which served as the template for House Bill 2 which required the state Auditor to conduct performance audits of several state agencies.
In addition to various pieces of model legislation, public records show that ALEC provided legislators with talking points to criticize the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act. Contrary to ALEC’s claims that it is bi-partisan organization these talking points were only distributed to Republican members of the General Assembly and Republican staff members.
“I find it incredibly alarming that legislators are looking to a corporately funded group to give them legislation that’s been bought and paid for by big business, rather than communicating with their constituents to find ways to move Ohio forward” said Dennis Duffey.