Investigation urged into newspaper’s findings

Prosecutor says he’s discussed report with other agencies.

A Dayton Daily News story Sunday revealed that Ohio Senate Chief of Staff Jason Mauk and Communications Director John McClelland collected a combined $231,773 in government pay last year while getting paid $79,600 through a company they set up to do political consulting work for the GOP in 2013 and 2014.

Mauk and McClelland were also allowed to revise their time records going back six months after the Daily News inquired about the company, Penmen Group, LLC, and requested the two staffers’ leave and comp time records.

At issue is whether Mauk and McClelland violated state ethics laws, which bar government employees from using state resources — such as time, phones, and parking spots — while doing outside work.

Common Cause Ohio, a good government watchdog, and Progress Ohio, a liberal think tank, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, state Auditor Dave Yost, state Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee should investigate the findings.

Progress Ohio’s Brian Rothenberg said Yost and O’Brien were willing to go after “the little guy” at Columbus Public Schools for altering public attendance records and he noted that an Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer was prosecuted for hunting on state time. Mauk and McClelland deserve the same investigative attention, Rothenberg said.

“There is no difference,” he said. “It merits the same type of look.”

O’Brien said his office works with investigators from other ethics and law enforcement agencies. “I have discussed the DDN article with one or more of those agencies but under the rules that apply to lawyers I am restricted from public comments on such matters unless/until a charge is to be filed,” he said in an email.

Faber, R-Celina, chairs the Joint Legislative Ethics Commission, hires the Senate chief of staff and is heavily involved in running the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. Faber, Mauk and McClelland did not return messages seeking comment for this story.

Rothenberg said he doubts an investigation will take place. “They will ignore this,” he said. “I hope I’m proven wrong but I’ve been around Ohio long enough to know that that’s how this dance works.”

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