From The Columbus Dispatch Ohio Auditor Dave Yost is fighting mad over a move by fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives to prevent his office from ruling on complaints that state agencies are violating public-records laws.
“This came out of the darkness of the night like a brick through the window,” Yost told The Dispatch this afternoon. “This is a full frontal assault on the independence of my office and I’m not going to stand for it.”
A measure in the House GOP state budget rewrite introduced yesterday would kill the “Sunshine Audit" program that Yost unveiled last month during the national Sunshine Week observance of government transparency.
“I don’t know if I would be welcome to testify, but I certainly plan to be heard in every corner of this state. If this can stand, they can protect anybody they want. Just make the Finance Committee of the House in charge of the world,” Yost said.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said the provision makes a clear delineation of the auditor’s duties. “It’s our prerogative that the legislature does so. We’re not really telling him. We’re clarifying, in my opinion.”
The Clarksville Republican added, “There’s a place for everything. I don’t know that that’s the place for the auditor.”
Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said there are already processes for people to settle public-records disputes.
“I think most people understand the auditor is going to audit public institutions on their finances,” he said. “Public records requests are a whole different animal.”
Yost said he hasn’t had “a lick of communication from across the street” and does not know what GOP lawmakers find objectionable.
“On the merits, someone needs to explain why it is a bad idea to have a quick, easy, cheap resolution to routine public records requests,” he said.