Records battle took years

This newspaper first requested records of contracts and payments between Wright State University and former Dayton Development Coalition CEO Ron Wine’s consulting firm in 2013.

A full accounting of Wine’s work for the university came weeks ago.

The first request came after another former Dayton Development Coalition director, Jim Leftwich, lost his job with the Kasich administration in 2012 and was the subject of an investigation by the Ohio Ethics Commission over his dual role with the state and the university.

Leftwich held a $20,000-a-month consulting contract with Wright State at the same time he was getting paid $85-an-hour with the Ohio Department of Development.

After the commission ruled that Leftwich did not properly disclose his dual roles, he agreed to pay a $21,000 fine.

On the heels of that controversy, the newspaper in 2013 sought information about the work Wine was doing for Wright State and how much he was getting paid.

At the time, the university provided only financial agreements totaling $88,500 and a one-page, heavily redacted scope of work.

An unredacted copy since obtained by this newspaper shows what the university had withheld: the type of Air Force contract they were seeking and the individuals involved at other universities, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Navy and Air Force research labs.

In June, the newspaper again requested records on Wine, which were provided two months later after the paper asked the Ohio Auditor’s office to intervene. The records came one day after the university sent a release to other media outlets touting Wine’s achievements but making no mention of how much the firm was getting paid.

Those records were again incomplete but showed the $88,500 contract was part of at least $142,000 paid to Wine in 2013. And a full version of the contract included no description of the work Wine’s firm was expected to perform.

Finally, two weeks ago, the university provided what it says is a full accounting of its relationship with Wine: nearly $2 million in payments since 2009. But about half of that money came in 2014, and the university says it cannot find its contract with Wine’s firm, Ron Wine Consulting Group, from that year.

University officials later provided a scope of work from the 2013 contract that they said they obtained from Wine himself. Those records show he helped form and find funding for the Aerospace Professional Development Center at Wright State.

Wine did not respond to repeated attempts for comment.

WSU Board of Trustees President Michael Bridges, a federal contractor who also sits on the Dayton Development Coalition board, emailed a statement on behalf of the Wright State trustees:

“When it comes to consulting contracts and other day-to-day operations of the university, the trustees rely on the administration to oversee the work done and the accounting surrounding that work,” the statement said. “Our job is to guide the general direction of Wright State.”

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