Former Miami County commissioner censured for ethics violations

John "Bud" O'Brien
John "Bud" O'Brien

Former Miami County Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien has been censured for two ethics violations while he was in office.

An investigation determined that O’Brien applied for and used the influence of his public position in an effort to obtain a position with the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities, according to a release from Miami County Prosecutor Anthony Kendell.

Also, as a commissioner, O’Brien voted on two county resolutions that affected the BODD after expressing interest and then applying for the position, the release stated.

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Following is the timeline of events that led to the violations:

  • May 5, 2018, O'Brien received an email advertising an open position, personnel and staff development director position
  • June 26, 2018, O'Brien contacted the BODD superintendent about his potential interest. The superintendent said he would need to check with the Miami County prosecutor to determine if there would be any conflicts if O'Brien applied.
  • June 28, 2018, O'Brien voted to pass a county resolution that provided for a contract for services between the Miami County Commissioners on behalf of the Miami County Family and Children first Council and Riverside of Miami County BODD.
  • July 6, 2018, O'Brien applied for the BODD position, then texted the superintendent to inform him that he had applied.
  • July 10, 2018, O'Brien voted to pass a county resolution for an early intervention local outreach funds agreement with the Miami County Family and Children First Council and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, with serviced provided by the BODD.
  • July 18, 2018, Kendell issued an opinion that O'Brien's application to the BODD was a conflict of interest.
  • July 24, 2018, O'Brien was issued a letter stating he was not being considered for the BODD position.
  • Early August 2018, a complaint was filed with the Ohio Ethics Commission

After an independent investigation, the Ohio Ethics Commission concluded that O'Brien violated two provisions of Ohio Ethics laws, and asked whether Kendell would consider a letter of censure as punishment instead of prosecution.

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“After consideration of all the facts and circumstances, I allowed O’Brien to have that option,” Kendell said in the release. “After a considerable period of time, O’Brien agreed to the censure, which was received by my office earlier this week.”

An attorney for O’Brien said that he “fully cooperated” with the investigation and that “ there was no evidence that he used his influence to try to affect the employment decision.”

“In their letter closing this matter, the Ethics Commission acknowledged that Mr. O'Brien the votes he cast were on motions that passed unanimously and renewed ongoing funding for the agencies involved,” said Mark R. Weavers. “The facts are clear that once a potential conflict of interest was identified, Mr. O'Brien withdrew his application for employment.”