According to an Attorney General Opinion, #2006-048, a "county sheriff and deputy sheriffs are prohibited from using county law enforcement vehicles to run personal errands, or otherwise using county vehicles for their personal use and benefit."
The opinion states:
"This conclusion is consistent with common law principles prohibiting county sheriffs and other public servants from using the resources of their public office for personal gain or benefit." (emphasis added)
How, then, can it not be a violation of law for the Mayor of the City of Toledo to use city employees to walk his dog and take said dog on 'potty breaks'?
Such a task is certainly not relevant to the operation of the city and, since they are doing this during normal working hours, it's clear that they are being paid with city funds for performing this 'duty.' Additionally, it is a personal benefit to the mayor who is relieved of having to perform such a task.
Further, the Ohio Ethics Commission, in an advisory opinion #96-004, said:
"A public official’s or employee’s duty is to the exercise of the public trust by performing the tasks assigned to him by the public agency with which he serves. Advisory Op. No. 89-010. A public agency provides resources to its officials and employees for the performance of these tasks and not for the official's or employee's personal financial gain or benefit."
Not being an attorney, I do not know if utilizing city employees to walk your dog constitutes a 'personal financial gain or benefit.' However, one could speculate that the use of public employees eliminates the need for the mayor to hire someone to perform these tasks, thus resulting in a financial gain.
And then there is the issue of the mayor using his city vehicle to go to the doctor's office, which is clearly not a city purpose. Following the 2003 incident of former County Treasurer Ray Kest's DUI conviction while in a county-owned car, the City of Toledo modified their vehicle use policy.
However, according to this Blade article, Clerk of Council "Mr. Dendinger said the mayor is viewed differently than other city employees because he is not taxed for taking a city vehicle home overnight.
Mr. Dendinger said Mr. Finkbeiner is assigned a vehicle for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is not violating any laws by driving the car around Toledo for personal use."
Is this still another instance of 'do as I say, not as I do'? And where's an auditor or attorney general when you need one?