By Tyler Arnold
The Center Square

https://www.thecentersquare.com/

Ohio lawmakers are considering proposed legislation that would create a framework for the appointments of inspectors general for county governments.

Rep. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake, who is sponsoring the bill, testified in favor of his legislation in front of the House State and Local Government Committee.

The legislation would provide a permissive basis for counties to create a position that would investigate fraud, waste and corruption on the county level, similar to the state inspector general on the state level, Greenspan said. The office would take ethics complaints, investigation suspected wrongdoings within county government, and file reports upon completion.

The inspector general would have jurisdiction to investigate all county offices and employees and all departments and agencies. The office could also investigate people and entities that do business with the counties or take any public money from any public office, whether it be the county, town, state or federal government.

The county would need a majority vote of its commissioners to request an inspector general from the state. If the county makes the request, then the state inspector general would interview potential candidates for the position. The candidate would then have to be approved by a newly formed State Commission for County Inspector General Services, which would consist of the attorney general, the state auditor, the secretary of state, the state treasurer and the lieutenant governor. The candidate would then need a majority approval from the county commissioners to receive the position.

Initial funding would be decided by a majority vote by the county commissioners.

To maintain independence and ensure integrity, the commissioners would be required to approve any reasonable funding requested by the office, and the commissioners would not be allowed to lower its funding. The inspector general would also be independent in decisions about hiring, firing and oversight.

Having an independent inspector general would “benefit taxpayers and improve our communities,” Greenspan said.

An inspector general could only be removed if someone filed a complaint and the county held a hearing about that complaint.

The legislation would also give counties the option to contract with the state attorney general’s office to do one-off investigations if they did not feel like they needed an inspector general on the county level.

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.