Former development agency head given fine, reprimand

Ethics body rules that Jim Leftwich erred but did not commit crime.

The Ethics Commission publicly reprimanded Leftwich for simultaneously holding a state job and consulting contracts with Wright State University without properly disclosing the dual roles. But the commission did not refer the case for prosecution because of mitigating circumstances, the agreement said.

Ethics investigators found that the director of the Ohio Department of Development originally wanted to hire Leftwich as a consultant — not a state employee — and his state business card said “policy consultant.” It is an important distinction because state employees and outside consultants have different requirements under state ethics laws.

Investigators also said there was no evidence that Leftwich double-billed his hours, used his state position to land the Wright State contracts or consulted WSU on matters related to his state work.

The $21,000 fine, which must be paid within 18 months, amounts to half of what Leftwich earned from the state development department during the months that he also had WSU contracts.

“They did their investigation and found what we knew from the beginning — that I should have filled out that (disclosure) form,” said Leftwich. He added that it was an oversight due to a “chaotic” beginning as an intermittant state employee.

The settlement agreement comes nearly two years after the Kasich administration dismissed Leftwich when officials learned of his dual roles and referred it to the ethics commission.

Leftwich originally joined the Kasich administration in March 2011 as state development director but stepped down six months later. A month later, his former department, which was renamed the Development Services Agency, hired him back as an intermittent employee at $85 an hour. He was paid $114,850 by the state over 13 months to help Ohio get a federal designation as a drone testing site.

Like many universities, WSU wants to increase revenue by commercializing technology research and growing technology startup companies. Wright State hired Leftwich and his consulting company, Viance Partners, to help. Viance Partners was to be paid $277,5000 over 15 months, according to the contracts, which ended in June 2013.

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