Mayor Mallory under investigation in BWC probe
Cincinnati mayor being investigated in BWC probe
By PAUL E. KOSTYU COPLEY COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
COLUMBUS Mayor Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, a former state senator, is under investigation for trying to influence the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to lower premium rates for an electric company.
But the mayor didn't know he was under investigation. There's some confusion about who knew what when.
Jason Barron, a spokesman for Mallory, spent several days trying to correct stories last week, including one by Copley Ohio Newspapers, that reported an investigation of Mallory by the offices of the Ohio inspector general and legislative inspector general.
Copley Ohio printed a correction Tuesday, while The Associated Press ran a correction Saturday. Both corrections were unnecessary.
Similar investigations all tied to the bureau and lower premium rates are under way involving the governor's office, state Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, and five other lawmakers. Sources familiar with the investigation expect more lawmakers to be named as investigators weed through 500,000 e-mails and other correspondence related to the issue.
All of the lawmakers and Gov. Bob Taft have denied wrongdoing, saying they were providing constituent services. Lawmakers received letters sent Nov. 13 from the legislative inspector general asking for material dealing with premium and claim issues before the bureau, typically the first step of an investigation.
Mallory said Tuesday he did not receive the letter, which included a request for records from 2004 involving Bertke Electric. Its bureau rates went down after Mallory's office contacted the bureau, apparently more than once.
The letter didn't go to the mayor. It went to his successor, state Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, and was passed on to Mike Deemer, the legal counsel for Senate Democrats.
Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe said he could not acknowledge whether any investigations are under way, but he did not dispute press reports about the investigations. He said his office loses jurisdiction when a lawmaker leaves the General Assembly.
The issue of lawmaker influence came to light after the release of bureau records following requests by newspapers. There is an ongoing investigation of the bureau by a state task force.
No one from Kearney's office nor the Senate Minority Caucus contacted Mallory to let him know he was under investigation.
Schuring said Tuesday he asked Bledsoe to expedite his case, but Bledsoe said he can't.
"We cannot change the investigative process," he said. "We have to do due diligence for all the people involved."
Reach Copley Columbus Bureau Chief Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail: email@example.com
This story has just come to my attention. I have to admit that I don't know any more than is in the article. What strikes me as odd is that this investigation is not being reported by the Cincinnati papers.
Feel free to comment and clarify any issues. One question I have off the top is: Who is Bertke Electric?